When you need to take care of a loved senior person, it is not enough to keep a watch on their physical health and nutritional requirements. Dental health, though equally important, tends to be usually forgotten. However, in view of the critical importance that the health of teeth and gums has on the overall health, it is necessary for seniors to have someone remind or assist them to make oral health a priority. Taking good care of dental health is as critical as caring for the heart or the digestive system. Some of the top reasons why it is vital for seniors to take care of their dental health:
Research has established that gum disease has a connection with heart disease, hence maintaining a high degree of oral hygiene can be a powerful instrument against cardiac problems that have a great degree of fatalities. The American Academy of Periodontology observes that people suffering from periodontal disease tend to be twice as likely to suffer from heart or coronary artery disease. One study suggests that oral problems such as gum disease, missing teeth, and cavities were as good as cholesterol levels in predicting heart disease.
There is a very strong link between poor oral health and pneumonia in geriatric patients. The susceptibility to pneumonia is increased because the senior is breathing in droplets containing bacteria to the lungs from the mouth. The only way of fighting this is by ensuring good oral hygiene. It is even more important to pay attention to this factor when the senior is in a hospital or nursing home because he will be dependent on the caregivers.
Periodontitis or severe disease of the gums obstructs the body’s capability to use insulin. Consequently, high blood sugar in patients with poorly-controlled diabetes can result in gum disease. The inclusion of periodic dental checkups in the oral care routine can help to prevent this situation. A number of dental offices are attempting to educate seniors about the extra oral care required in case they are afflicted with diabetes. The yelp page of your local dentist could provide some useful links to internet resources.
As the human body ages, the bone-like tissue or dentin that lies beneath the enamel of the teeth changes the composition because of the repeated onslaught of food and drink. The outer layer of the enamel thins with age and allows the show-through of the yellow dentin, which further undergoes staining and leads to teeth that are substantially darkened.
Food debris and plaque that is left behind on the teeth due to improper oral hygiene as well as other lifestyle factors such as tobacco use, poor diets, bridges and dentures that do not fit properly as well as diseases like diabetes, cancer, anemia, etc. can cause gum disease. Not only is gum disease the principal cause of tooth loss but has been established to have severe consequences on the entire body and results in a number of other health issues.
Because seniors typically need to take a number of medicines and also undergo medical treatments that can result in less production of saliva, they can suffer from dry mouth. Saliva plays a very important role in keeping the mouth wet that in turn prevents teeth from decaying and controls bacteria, fungi, and viruses in the mouth from infecting it.
The elderly very commonly have to face tooth decay that is caused by exposure of the tooth to acids contained in food and drink. The gum recedes and this leads to the tooth roots becoming exposed. Decay sets in because the roots do not have any more enamel protection.
It is natural that seniors will lose teeth with age. If the missing teeth are not replaced with false ones, there is a tendency for the other teeth to shift into the vacant spaces. This leads to the creation of an uneven jawbone that can lead to problems in bite as well as a distorted appearance.
By itself, age has no negative effect on oral health. However, there could be certain medical conditions and other underlying issues that make proper dental health care more difficult with increasing age. Seniors or their caregivers need to take cognizance of the fact that advancing age can make seniors more susceptible to a variety of dental issues that require appropriate attention to prevent escalation. It is thus very important for regular dental checkups to be scheduled for seniors.