SENIORS AND ORAL HEALTH
Seniors and Oral Health
Good Oral Hygiene
More and more people today are avoiding the need for dentures as they grow older, reversing the notion that false teeth are a normal part of growing older.
In fact, there's usually no reason for you NOT to keep your teeth your entire life, providing you maintain a healthy balanced diet and continue good oral hygiene.
Another desirable side effect of good oral hygiene includes more serious problems such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even stroke. Indeed, medical research is beginning to show that a healthy mouth equates to a healthy body.
And just because you're getting older doesn't mean you can relax on your daily routine. You must continue brushing twice a day, flossing, and rinsing.
Dexterity and Arthritis
People who suffer from arthritis or other problems of dexterity may find it difficult and painful to practice good oral hygiene. This requires the use of ergonomically designed devices such as toothbrushes and floss holders that make it easier to grasp and control.
Flossing adjuncts like a water pick, or irrigator may be used if flossing is impossible due to manual dexterity problems. Water picks use powerful tiny bursts of water to blast away food particles and other debris in hard-to-reach areas of your mouth.
Having to wear dentures is one of the risks of poor oral hygiene. Older adults also may be at risk for such oral problems as:
- Periodontal (gum) disease - Usually the advanced stages of gingivitis, gum disease begins with infections in the gums that can spread to the teeth and bones. Advanced forms of gum disease can lead to a major problems that can only be treated by extreme measures such as extraction.
- Gingivitis - a condition that occurs when bacteria and plaque invade below the gum line, causing inflammation of the soft tissues and many times bleeding. Advanced gingivitis can lead to formation of a substance called tartar (also called calculus), which is a hard and crusty coating that can usually only be removed by scaling.
- Dry mouth - Older adults sometimes experience diminished production of saliva and a condition called dry mouth, which leads to problems such as swallowing, increase tooth decay, or speech difficulty. Certain kinds of medications and even cancer treatment can cause dry mouth.
- Oral cancer - Older adults are more prone to certain kinds of oral cancer. There are risks factors such as tobacco use and alcohol, and even heredity. But avoiding use of tobacco products and minimizing your intake of alcohol can go a long way in defending against some kinds of oral cancer.