Importance of Senior Oral Health Care
As an old saying goes, health is indeed wealth. It is now more important than ever for the elderly to take care of their oral health. Advancing age not only increases the chance of gum disease, it makes the teeth more vulnerable to infection and ailments. There are a number of factors that influence the oral health of senior citizens. The demographics of older people is increasing and it is vital that we address the concerns and the issues they are facing. Here, in this article let us discuss about some of these factors and the steps needed to be taken by senior citizens to enhance their oral health.
The dental health of the elderly is influenced by a multitude of factors like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and other sedentary diseases that have become very common in recent decades. Here are some factors that affect the elderly especially when it comes to their teeth and gums:
● There have been studies that show the link between heart disease and gum ailments. Correlation doesn’t always mean causation, but people with periodontal disease are twice as likely to have heart disease, indicating a higher risk for gum disease to people already having heart disease.
● Diabetes also influences the formation of bacteria in gums especially for people above 60 : People with diabetes often have a greater risk of periodontal disease. This could be due to the proliferation of bacteria, caused by an abundance of glucose in the mouth. Thickening of the blood vessels(a side-effect of diabetes) would also adversely affect the cleaning operation of harmful wastes in your mouth, which in turn is the cause for the formation of plaque. This is why it is essential that you consult a dentist if you feel that you have a greater risk of contracting a gum disease from diabetes.
● Darkened teeth : A very common indicator of gum disease, darkened teeth is caused by changes in dentin, a vital part of the tooth enamel. Eradication of the enamel after decades of corrosion due to sugary drinks and food will cause gum issues. Darkened teeth is quite common among old people since decades of eating food and liquids harmful to teeth causes a noticeable difference in the way gums look.
● Poor oral health causes diseases like pneumonia : Brushing your teeth and flossing regularly has a direct correlation with you contracting pneumonia. For people with bad oral health, the bacteria in the mouth gets transmitted down the throat into the lungs. Taking better care of your dental health will definitely reduce the chances of you contracting a lung ailment.
Let us look at some alarming facts and understand why it is more important than ever for the elderly to take good care of their teeth and gums:
● A quarter of the people between 65 and 74 have periodontal disease which influences their lifestyle for the worse.
● Over a quarter of people above 60 have untreated cavities which accentuates the health risk beyond just oral health.
If you are above 60, here are some tips for better oral health:
● Avoid over the top medications unless necessary, as a wrong drug inadvertently could cause adverse drug reactions. Xerostomia (dry mouth), suffered by many is usually an adverse reaction to the consumption of a drug. This is why it is mandatory that you consult a medical professional before popping a pill.
● Avoid sugary drinks as they may cause proliferation of bacteria in your mouth. Instead go for crunchy fruits and vegetables.
● Brush and floss regularly.
● Use a proper brushing and flossing technique to avoid harming the gums.
● Undergo regular dental checks to see if there is an issue with your gums.
● Wash your mouth after finishing brunch, lunch and dinner. Water is a very good way to eliminate bacteria from your mouth.
● Use a tongue scraper at least weekly.
● Use an appropriate fluoride toothpaste.