Importance of Dental Health in Seniors with Tips for Improvement
The overall well-being of seniors is linked to their dental health. Ageing takes a toll on every person, whether male or female. And how we respond to this process of ageing determines the quality of our life. Changes due to ageing occurs in every body tissue, including the mouth and teeth. Caring for dental caries and dental implants is even more critical for seniors because this is where food is ingested. Poor oral health will lead to deadly dental problems, making life very cumbersome for seniors. With advanced dental care, seniors can now maintain good oral health. Read on to know some dental care tips and the different methods available.
Why is Dental Health Vital for Seniors?
Poor oral care in most seniors leads to severe health complications and diseases. More than other age groups, seniors must maintain good dental care. Some considerations as to why oral health is important are listed below:
- Diabetes: Periodontitis is a chronic gum disease that inhibits the body from breaking down sugar. This leads to higher sugar levels and subsequent Diabetes mellitus (Type II). Severe gum infection is one of the dental diseases as a direct effect of diabetes. Therefore, regular visits to the dental clinic and maintaining good dental health are essential for seniors.
- Gum infections: When food is retained in the mouth long after eating, it forms plaque that extends from the teeth to the gums. Unhealthy diet choices like sugary foods, tobacco products, ill-fitting dentures, anaemia, diabetes, and other diseases lead to gum infections. This causes loss of teeth and dental caries, other health complications, and poor health.
- Dental root decay: Acids in food affect the dental roots and cause the decay of roots. The normal enamel covering is limited in seniors, and the roots can get easily exposed and infected, which is a painful condition. The roots are more exposed in seniors and must be cared for with advanced dental care.
- Stomatitis due to dentures: This dental disease is caused by a fungus called Candida albicans and is brought about by poorly fitting dentures. The tissues beneath the dentures get infected by the fungus, causing painful inflammation. Hence, seeing an excellent dental hygienist or visiting a good dental care clinic is essential.
- Heart problems: Scientific research points to the fact that heart problems are also linked to dental diseases. Patients with heart problems are most likely to have periodontal disease and vice versa. Gingivitis is one dental gum disease that, along with dental caries, lost teeth, and cavities in most patients, points to some heart disease. Strokes, heart attacks, and other heart illnesses can be prevented with proper dental care at home every day.
- Blackened teeth: Sodas, alcohol, other beverages, and foods consumed often lead to darkening and loss of ‘Dentin’, which is a bone-type tissue present below the tooth enamel. Without complete dental care, this can lead to blackened teeth over time. Seniors must avoid such beverages and have a strict routine for dental care at home for excellent oral health.
- Pneumonia: Bacterial infections in the mouth from dental plaques and dental caries can be inhaled into the lungs. This can cause pneumonia since most seniors have a compromised immune system. Hence, advanced dental care with proper hygiene of the dental implants is essential to ward off the oral bacterial build-up.
- Dry mouth: Continuous saliva within the mouth is essential to prevent germs from causing tooth decay and dental loss. Seniors taking medications or other treatments against cancer, like radiation, often lead to a dry mouth. This can lead to germ build-up in the absence of saliva.
- Lopsided jawbone: Missing teeth being replaced and the receding gum lines in seniors lead to an uneven jawbone. Dental dentures are often the solution to this problem. Caring for dental dentures and the underlying tissues is essential to prevent gum diseases like gingivitis.
How does Age Impact Dental Health in Seniors?
Ageing, in general, does not have a severe impact on the dental health of seniors. But other medical conditions like arthritis may make brushing their teeth an uphill task for seniors. Fingers and joints affected by osteoporosis make it difficult for seniors to care for their teeth. Medications for other illnesses or other memory impairment diseases like dementia can also affect the regularity of maintaining dental hygiene. Knowing the importance of practising dental floss and types of dental care must be a regular practice to prevent any dental diseases. Therefore, timely dental clinic visits and dental care at home are essential for seniors.
Some Dental Care Tips for a Wholesome Dental Regime
- The universal law of brushing teeth twice a day using good toothpaste must be a regular practice for gentle dental care. The typical brushing timings are early morning and before going to bed.
- The daily flossing rule for teeth and gums is another must-do practice for flawless teeth. Seniors who follow the daily flossing rule for teeth and dentures rarely have any dental issues.
- Cleaning dentures daily is essential to avoid plaque formations and subsequent dental caries. Liquid formulas are now available to ensure the dentures get thoroughly cleaned.
- Dental implants are an advanced dental care practice followed internationally, which are surgically implanted into the gums.
- Wearing porcelain veneers is another option for those seniors who like to have pearly white teeth. These are specially designed shell-type teeth coverings that can hide discoloured teeth.
- Rinsing the mouth with an antiseptic mouth wash is another good practice to keep any germ build-up within the mouth at bay.
- To prevent dental health complications, quitting smoking or using any other tobacco-based products by seniors is essential.
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Besides brushing twice a day and using dental floss regularly, there is much more to a complete dental care practice for seniors. Following some dental care tips and periodically following up with a dental hygienist or visiting a dental care clinic are some good practices for seniors. Not only are dental diseases warded off, but illnesses caused due to bad dental health are also evaded.
What diseases cause dental problems?
Dental Diseases like periodontitis, gingivitis, tooth decay, cavities, oral cancer, etc., cause oral issues.
What is the most common dental disease?
Dental caries or tooth decay, also known as dental cavities, is the most common dental disease. It occurs when bacteria are allowed to colonise the tooth surface, forming a film called a dental ‘plaque’.
What are the four types of teeth?
They are Incisors, Canines. Premolars and Molars
Why does tooth pain come and go?
Tooth decay causes tooth pain which revolves around the gums and surrounding teeth. Eating food in extreme temperatures like hot or cold may worsen tooth pain. Maintaining poor dental health is the leading cause of tooth pain.
Can a tooth nerve heal itself?
Yes. A tooth nerve can heal itself, but only in certain circumstances. Not all types of tooth damage will allow the nerve to heal and may need special care at a dental care clinic.