Expressing your concern about the health of seniors is a crucial thing. Often, those people taking care of the elderly only check on their nutritional intake and physical capabilities. They usually forget to check on their gums and teeth. As such, the older adults continue to suffer severe dental diseases because people taking care of them are not concerned at all.
Oral hygiene is vital for both young and the elderly. As we grow old, there are important things that we tend to ignore. Honestly, oral health seems to be one of the aspects that can quickly be forgotten. And since dental health is part of the entire body health, it is imperative that the elderly loved ones have someone to either remind or help them keep the highest standards of oral hygiene.
How Aging Affects Dental Health
It is worth to note that age does not have a direct negative impact on dental health. The reason is that some people may be unable to brush or floss their teeth just because of their current medical conditions. For instance, an old person with arthritis on his hands and fingers may not be able to hold a toothbrush in position. Also, dental problems could be something genetic for some individuals, so whether they like it or not such complications must occur. And because of such reasons, senior dental care becomes a priority. Outlined below are some of the known effects of aging on mouth and teeth:
As age advances, taste sensation seems to diminish. That is why most of the seniors use a lot of salt in their foods to at least make their meals a bit tasty. Others prefer eating hot meals to cold ones. Also, certain drugs, especially those for treating high blood pressure can affect the ability to taste. But remember salty or warm foods can burn gums, which may lead to severe dental complications.
Secondly, tooth enamel tends to wear out with aging. This can make teeth vulnerable to physical damage and decay. Lack of coating may eventually lead to loss of teeth. That is why most of the older adults are unable to chew, which means they may not consume the right nutrients.
Again, there is a notable decrease in saliva during aging. This occurs naturally, but sometimes it is catalyzed by some drugs. Reduction of saliva causes dry mouth, which leads to thinning and receding of the gums. This may eventually result in cavities.
Lastly, long-term accumulation of bacteria may lead to periodontal disease. This is a very destructive disease, which affects gums and the supporting structures. This dental disorder mostly occurs to older adults who have not been maintaining good oral hygiene.
The Common Senior Oral Health Problems
Aging puts the elderly at risk of many oral health complications. Such ailments have are highlighted below:
- Dry Mouth- This particular condition occurs when saliva flow reduces. Reduction of saliva can be as a result of previous cancer treatments, which utilize radiation, especially around the head or neck. Side effects caused by certain medications can lead to mouth drying.
- Darkened Teeth- It is usually caused by the bone-like tissue underlying the tooth enamel. Consuming stain-causing foods and beverages may lead to teeth blackening or discoloration. Also, this problem can occur as a result of thinning of the outer layer of enamel.
- Impaired Sense of Taste- While the advancement of age can impair the sense of taste, dentures and medications can lead to the same.
- Root Decay- This occurs if tooth roots are exposed to decay-causing acids. Tooth roots get exposed as the underlying gum tissue moves away from the tooth. Roots are more prone to decay simply because any enamel does not protect them.
- Gum Disease- Plague causes gum disease. Food particles that are left in the teeth can lead to this dental problem. Also, excessive use of tobacco, poor diet, and certain ailments may lead to gum disease.
- Uneven Jawbone- Failure to replace lost teeth may lead to this problem. This usually occurs when the existing teeth drift and shifts into the open spaces.
- Tooth Loss- The primary cause of tooth loss is gum disease.
Tiptop Reasons Why Senior Dental Health Care is Vital
Taking good care of the seniors’ teeth and gums is as important as heart or digestive health. The reason is that the elderly have fragile body cells, and therefore a minor infection in the gum may result in a complicated body health problem. Highlighted below are the surefire reasons senior dental care is so critical:
- Minimizes Chances of Contracting Heart Diseases
According to recent research by the American Academy of Periodontology, there is a very close connection between gum disease and cardiovascular disease. As such, maintaining high standards of oral hygiene is a great way to lower the chances of heart attacks and stroke. It has also been discovered that people with periodontal disease are more likely to contract heart or artery disease.
- Helps Lower Chances of Getting Pneumonia
Older adults with poor oral health are likely to suffer from pneumonia. Once they breathe in the bacteria-causing droplets found in the mouth, they are likely to get pneumonia. Maintaining a high level of oral hygiene is a great way to curb this bacterial infection. Seniors at caregiving centers require more attention because most of them cannot do anything on their own.
- Helps Prevent Diabetes
Periodontics also referred to as severe gum disease, can prevent the body from utilizing insulin. As such, high blood pressure, which is part of diabetes, may cause gum disease. So, proper dental care for the seniors can help prevent this condition.
- Helps Maintain a Beautiful Smile
Keeping an aging mouth clean and healthy is crucial. Because a person is aging, this does not deny them the right to cast a bright smile. So, making sure the older adults brush their teeth regularly is vital since they will be able to throw a beautiful smile like any other person.
Why Seniors Should Visit Dentists Frequently
Advancing age exposes the elderly to many dental health complications. These may include root decay, dry mouth, darkened teeth, uneven jawbone, and many others. Some of these oral health issues may not be detected unless proper diagnoses is done. That is why a regular visit to a dentist is vital.
Dentists will carry out dental examination and evaluation to determine the underlying dental problem. Just as normal patients go to see physicians for general checkups, seniors are required to visit dentists on a regular basis. Anyone who has attained 65 years and above is supposed to see a dentist at least twice a year.
But there are people with severe dental conditions that require special care. Dental complications, such as recurrent tooth decay or gum disease are severe and an elderly should always stay close to a dental health care provider. Also, even if seniors have complete dentures, it is highly recommended that they visit their dentist for oral examination and evaluation of the dentures.
There are consequences of not visiting a dentist. For instance, the dry mouth problem is quite common with the elderly. The work of saliva is to keep mouth wet, which helps protect teeth from decay. It also controls bacteria and virus thus preventing infection. Having a dry mouth means your mouth and teeth are exposed to disease-causing agents. If proper visits to the dentist are made, such problems will be detected at their early stages and appropriate measures put in place.
Why Should the Seniors Go for Dental Insurance Plans?
Just because you are getting old does not mean you cannot have access to affordable dental treatment. And since most of the insurance companies are reluctant to offer coverage to the seniors, one can still get proper coverage for dental health care. The number of older adults in the United States is increasing rapidly. This is also the group of individuals who are at high risk of developing dental problems. Keep in mind that only a few older people have dental coverage.
There is a myriad of dental coverage options in the market today. Older adults can obtain dental coverage through Medicare. They can also acquire the same through Medicaid. One good thing about Medicaid is that it offers dental coverage to low-income senior citizens.
The other option is dental coverage through dental savings plans. These are also referred to as discount dental plans. Such programs are quite affordable because subscribers are required to pay a small annual fee instead of high monthly premiums. The good thing is that even if you have Medicare or dental insurance, you can still get a discount dental plan.
Although dental insurance plans for the seniors are great, you have to pay monthly premiums, which can add up to thousands of dollars annually. A dental savings plan is the best alternative to dental insurance. With a low-cost dental plan, you can acquire a membership card that you will present to the dentist whenever you visit them.
So, if you have loved ones who are 65 years and above, it is always good to ensure they are covered for their dental treatments. Whether through Medicaid, Medicare or discount dental plans, the elderly can get affordable dental coverage that will enable them to save money.
How Oral Health Impacts Longevity
Long life does not necessarily mean a healthy life. A person might have stayed alive for 80 years struggling with health problems. Research shows that improving your oral health can make your life longer and enjoyable.
Mouth is connected to all other body organs. As such, maintaining a healthy mouth means other systems of your body will function well. The state of your dental health can directly impact other body parts, such as lungs, heart, and kidney. This, therefore, means that taking good care of your mouth can let you live a longer, healthier and better life.
Practicing simple oral hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing your teeth can indeed increase the quality of that more extended period you want to live. Imagine being eighty years old and you have fully functional teeth. This means you can chew and eat those foods you love.
In essence, taking good care of your mouth determines a number of things. These may include:
- Toxicity levels and inflammation inside your body
- The health of your cardiovascular system
- Resistance to dementia
It is essential to start practicing good oral hygiene early in advance. By the time you hit 65 years, your dental formula will be intact and minimal care will be needed to facilitate a happy and healthier life.
For optimal oral health, seniors are required to adopt the following steps:
- Daily flossing
- Gentle teeth brushing
- Tongue scrapping
- Taking low-inflammation diet
- Regular visits to the dentist
Why Proper Oral Hygiene Is Good For Your Body
Good oral hygiene not only helps prevent bad breath and tooth decay but it also plays a significant role in overall body health. Recent research shows that a healthy mouth may help you curb medical disorders. Poor oral hygiene, especially gum disease can increase the risk of getting serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart attack.
The health condition of your mouth reveals much about your overall health. Saliva is a diagnostic tool used to determine your overall body health. For instance, a doctor needs to carry simple tests of saliva and tell you what is going on inside your body. In short, your mouth can reveal a lot regarding what is happening in the rest of your body.
Also, saliva helps disable viruses and bacteria. In fact, it defenses against disease-causing organisms. This is due to the presence of enzymes, which destroy the bacteria-causing agents by either inhibiting their growth or degrading bacterial membranes. As in the case of the elderly whereby their mouths sometimes go dry, the chances of contracting serious diseases are way too high. It is, therefore, right to maintain proper dental hygiene to help in overall body health.
In essence, your mouth is the source of body infections. If you do not brush on a regular basis, plague is likely to build up along your gum line. This, therefore, creates a conducive environment for bacteria to accumulate between your teeth and gums. If left unchecked, the gum infection may lead to a severe problem known as periodontitis, which eventually leads to trench mouth.
To conclude, practicing high standards of oral hygiene is a significant investment that you can make to your overall health. If you have older adults under your care, make sure they brush and floss their teeth on a daily basis. More importantly, ensure they pay regular visits to a dentist for proper examination and evaluation.