Taking good care of your teeth and gums is important at every stage of life, but advancing age can put seniors more at risk for a variety of dental issues. Also, physical conditions like arthritis might make it difficult to practice good dental hygiene on a daily basis.
In some cases memory loss may cause some seniors to forget to brush and floss their teeth altogether. Finally, changes in the mouth can lead to other health problems for some of the elderly population.
But it is important to stay on top of your dental health as the years go by, as dental health is a key indicator and component of overall health.
The good news is that with the proper care and regular visits to the dentist, it’s possible for your mouth, teeth, and gums to stay in great condition as you age.
A Supa Smile is ready to help you, whatever your age, achieve optimal dental health!
Dental Problems Associated with Ageing
There are five dental problems common among older persons:
- Dental Decay: When people age, their gums begin to recede. The roots of the tooth are exposed and it is very easy for cavities to develop in this area. Cavities can lead to infection and teeth snapping off or being extracted.
- Gum Disease: Plaque grows on the surface of the teeth. The bacteria found in plaque give off acids that cause gum disease. Unchecked, gum disease can lead to infection and tooth loss.
- Dry Mouth: Older people sometimes produce less saliva. Saliva is a natural mouth protector, which limits the growth of bacteria, cleans the mouth, and coats the teeth with protective minerals; thus a reduction in saliva can cause dental decay.
- Poor Fitting Dentures: Dentures must be checked and refitted on a regular basis because they can become loose or uncomfortable. Poor fitting dentures may loosen as a person speaks, and they can cause chewing problems that can lead to poor nutrition.
- Oral Cancer: Oral cancer includes cancers of the mouth, throat, tongue, and lips. If you notice red or white spots, sores in the mouth or a bleeding which does not disappear within two weeks, make an appointment with you dentist or physician, as these could be early signs of oral cancer.
Prevention is the best medicine. Many dental problems are preventable with good daily mouth care. If problems are caught early they are more likely to be inexpensive and easy to fix.
Oral Health and General Health
The Mayo Clinic has studied links between dental and overall health and identified the following health problems as linked to oral health:
- Dementia:The bacteria from gingivitis may enter the brain through either nerve channels in the head or through the bloodstream. This migration might lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Cardiovascular disease:Basically, this means heart disease. The bacteria from inflammation of the gums and periodontal disease can enter your bloodstream and travel to the arteries in the heart and cause atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Atherosclerosis can cause an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. The inner lining of the heart can also become infected and inflamed in a condition known as endocarditis
- Respiratory infections:The Journal of Periodontology warns that gum disease could cause you to get infections in your lungs, including pneumonia.
- Diabetic complications:Inflammation of the gum tissue and periodontal disease can make it harder to control your blood sugar and make your diabetes symptoms worse. Diabetes sufferers are also more susceptible to periodontal disease, making proper dental care even more important for those with this disease.
Keeping Your Mouth Healthy as You Age
To help defend you oral health, adopt the following strategies:
- Regular dental checkups can keep you away from potential dental problems.
- At home, brush twice a day with a soft brush and floss at least once. If arthritis limits your ability to do this, ask your dentist about special dental aids that make brushing and flossing easier.
- Fight dry mouth by staying hydrated. Use artificial saliva products and chew sugarless gum.
- Eat healthy foods that are low in sugar and high in fiber.
- Finally, shrink your oral cancer risks. Eliminate tobacco and alcoholic products and have your dentist examine your mouth for early signs of oral cancer.
Age brings many surprises. Don’t let bad dental health be one of them! Join with us here at A Supa Smile to take your first step on the path towards better dental and overall health!
Quality Care for Seniors at A Supa Smile in Croydon
A Supa Smile wants to treat you in a worry-free environment! We offer complete and compassionate care to all patients, including those in their golden years.
We are conveniently located just off of the Maroondah Highway near Plymouth Road and Kent Ave, with public transport nearby.
We make it easy for you to get an appointment offering a convenient online form in addition to our phone line. For working patients we are open from Mondays to Saturdays, morning until evening. For more information about schedule and location, please visit our contact us page. Emergency dental treatment is also available!