Age may bring wisdom, but it also brings various issues related to deteriorating teeth and gums. Many oral health issues in seniors can be attributed to a lifespan of eating, chewing, clenching, and normal wear and tear, as well as medications, illnesses, and a potential decline in oral care. These problems could lead to severe tooth pain, infection, bleeding, or inflamed gums. Here are five major elderly dental issues to look out for, along with suggestions for proper management, prevention, and dental treatment.
1. Dental decay
Cavities brought on by tooth decay can result in pain, infection, and even tooth loss. It is frequently caused by plaque and tartar buildup. The dietary sugar and acid in the mouth are caused due to high sucrose diet, a propensity to snack between meals, and a decrease in salivation. Medical issues also play a vital role in tooth decay. If tooth decay is a concern, consult your dentist about alternatives like using a salt mouthwash or getting fillings and crowns to stop more advanced decay.
This gum disease occurs when the bacteria build up in the gums and quickly reproduce, leading to problems and infections. This illness can result in tooth loss since it directly affects the bones that support the teeth. This leads to a severe condition of Gingivitis, where the bacterial accumulation causes inflammation of the gum tissue.
3. Gum recession
It’s a process in which gums start separating from teeth. Caused mainly by gum disease and poor oral hygiene, receding gums are also potentially caused by smoking, a family history, tooth grinding, or bruxism.
4. Dryness of the mouth
A dry mouth is a widespread symptom known as xerostomia, affecting many older adults. Sugar and acids can accumulate in the mouth, increasing the risk of cavities due to less salivation. Additionally, it may cause a swelling tongue and dry, cracked lips.
5. Oral cancer
With ageing, the risk of mouth cancer rises, and people who habitually smoke or drink alcohol are more susceptible. The dentist should check any persistent sores, ulcers, or colour changes in the tissue in or around your older adult’s mouth.
How to Prevent Oral Health Issues in Seniors
Modern technology makes it simple to solve oral health issues, but as we get older, it gets trickier. Maintaining good oral health practices, mentioned below as we age will be pretty beneficial.
1. Brush your teeth regularly
The best strategy for maintaining a healthy mouth is to brush correctly and a minimum of twice a day. Use the appropriate oral hygiene products and precise brushing techniques.
2. Make floss a habit
Dental floss is just as crucial as brushing. Food particles left in tooth fissures and along the gum line can be removed by flossing. This prevents bacteria from growing and from eroding the teeth’s enamel.
3. Reduce the use of tobacco
Smoking promotes plaque development. Giving up on tobacco and cigarettes will substantially benefit your oral health.
4. Have a balanced diet
Limiting sweets and other foods high in sugar will help keep teeth in excellent condition. Sugar is known to erode tooth enamel; acidic meals and drinks damage teeth and readily erode the enamel. Consuming a balanced diet helps maintain overall health.
5. Clean dentures
Make sure that the senior you are caring for gets their dentures frequently cleaned as dentures serve as a breeding ground for bacteria that can lead to oral health issues.
6. Dentist visits
Seniors should visit the dentist every month to preserve a healthy set of teeth and prevent oral health issues. The dentist can examine their oral health, do the required cleaning, and take care of any early indications of cavities and tooth decay.
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Oral health has become incredibly important for seniors. The entire body is affected by oral problems, and our general health can also suffer due to that. Regular dental examination ensures that your senior’s gums and surrounding tissue are in the best possible health.
Food and plaque between teeth and below the gum line are removed by floss. If not treated, the plaque will turn into tartar, which expands the gap between the teeth and gums and creates pockets. Gums start to shrink, and teeth begin to loosen.
When used in conjunction with routine brushing and flossing, mouthwashes for cavity prevention, sensitivity, and fresh breath are very beneficial.
Trouble chewing and soreness are the main signs to look out for, along with jaw pain, swollen gums, sensitivity, and dry mouth.
Fluoride strengthens teeth and guards against decay; thus is beneficial for protecting teeth in adults.
Over-the-counter medications and take-home gels are available; however, your dentist can suggest better and more effective ways.