People with age face many medical as well as dental issues. Age-related changes and conditions can affect various aspects of a person’s health, including oral health. Poor oral health causes discomfort and a decrease in self-esteem. Most of the dental problems that commonly arise in seniors are easy to identify, manageable, and even preventable. Thanks to advancements in dental technology and techniques which makes the procedure more comfortable and less time-consuming, even for seniors.
Some myths of losing teeth in older age are usual. This is an indication of underlying oral disease. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 34 % of U.S. adults aged 65 and older have lost more teeth due to gum disease and tooth decay.
Understanding the impact of underlying disease on oral health in seniors
- Drug interactions: Older individuals use regularly several prescriptions making them more vulnerable to drug interactions and adverse drug reactions like dry mouth and salivary gland dysfunction. A dry mouth causes decay of teeth, mucositis, cracked lips, fissured tongue, and periodontal issues.
Solution: Saliva helps to protect your teeth from decay so if you have dry mouth drink lots of water, limiting alcoholic beverages and high-sugar drinks such as soda, tea, or coffee. Consult the best dentist near you.
- Diabetes patients: Diabetic patients have a higher risk of gum disease, delayed wound healing, taste alteration, and dental infections. Gum disease is characterized by inflammation of the gums which can lead to gum recession and tooth loss.
Solution: Adopting good oral hygiene like rotating toothbrushes, high fluoride toothpaste, and regular fluoride varnish application. Schedule a dentist appointment to receive comprehensive information on diabetes management.
- Aging individuals with dementia: They are at risk for periodontal disease and oral infections because of cognitive limitations.
Solutions: The caretaker should be advised to assist the patient with home oral care needs.
- Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis in the hand and fingers make brushing difficult. The limited movement and joint stiffness can make it difficult to grip and maneuver a regular toothbrush. On the other hand, Osteoarthritis in older patients can lead to a decrease in jaw bone density, resulting in loose teeth and uneven jaw bone.
Solution: An electric or power toothbrush is ideal for the elderly with limited movement. The thicker grip of the handle makes it easier to hold, promoting optimal maintenance of oral hygiene. Dental X-rays in regular dental check-ups can help screen for osteoporosis.
- The weak immune system in seniors: Autoimmune disorders and prolonged use of corticosteroids can increase the risk of thrush. Thrush that affects the immune system triggers the overgrowth of the fungus candida albicans in the mouth. Candida albicans are particularly common in denture wearers.
Solution: Keep the denture clean and remove it at night. Book a dental appointment to remove the sharp edges of the denture or replacement of ill-fitting denture. Get the treatment of ulcers and fungus as they might spread and alleviate irritation.
As you age, it is essential to take extra care of your dental health to enjoy a sparkling, healthy smile.
When should seniors visit a dentist?
Recognizing the signs of dental problems in seniors is crucial. So, the first and foremost step is a regular visit to a dentist is a must for all. Visiting the dentist twice a year is recommended.
If you face any of the below problems:
- Gums that bleed
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath
- Improper occlusion: due to missing tooth or grinding and clenching issues
Consulting a dentist near you, who can offer you personalized recommendations which are tailored to your specific needs.
Dr. Dalal’s meticulous approach and attention to detail set her apart as a dentist who consistently provides the highest quality of dental care to all her patients. She takes the time to thoroughly assess each patient’s oral health, carefully listening to their concerns and addressing any questions they may have.