Oral health is one of the significant factors that affect the lives of elderly people. As you age, changes occur throughout the body, including your mouth. In fact, many dental health issues come with ageing along with the intersecting comorbidities that further contribute to deteriorating oral health. Thus, making it extremely important for older adults to understand the importance of oral health and hygiene and practice the same in their daily life.
Importance of Oral Health
Maintaining good oral hygiene by taking care of your teeth and gums can offset a host of health problems that are connected with it. Here is why oral health and dental hygiene is of particular importance in the elderly.
1. Gum problems
Gum diseases like periodontitis are common among elderly people with poor oral health. Such diseases are fatal as they are not limited to the mouth and can spread to other parts of the body. Besides, it causes a lot of discomfort and pain while eating or drinking.
A mouth infection can be easily aspirated to the lungs, thereby causing other severe respiratory diseases issues like Pneumonia. Hence, elderly people should maintain good oral hygiene to prevent any kind of breathing problems that can turn fatal.
3. Cardiovascular disease
While the connection is not fully understood by the geriatric dental care professionals specialized in oral care for elderly people, it is still known to exist. Doctors suggest that heart diseases, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to infection and inflammation caused due to oral bacteria.
Also called Endocardium, it is an infection in the inner lining of your heart chamber or valves that occurs when a bacteria enters into the bloodstream from other parts of the body like your mouth. This kind of infection is severe and can further lead to fatal heart problems.
Ailments linked to Oral Health
There are other health problems linked with poor oral hygiene that highlight the importance of oral health and dental hygiene in the elderly.
1. Dry mouth
While dry mouth is a common side effect of various medications, the problem is further aggravated with poor oral health. In such cases, the mouth does not get enough saliva to prevent oral infections that are already prevailing, thereby leading to gums problems and cavities. This may even cause difficulty in chewing or talking.
Oral infections can lead to high blood sugar levels that potentially results in Diabetes. Besides, pre-existing diabetes can also lead to gum problems, infection and tooth decay. Thus, following a good dental care regime, will help keep such health problems at bay for older adults .
Osteoporosis is a bone-weakening disease that is often linked with periodontal bone loss and tooth loss by geriatric dental care professionals. Besides, certain medicines prescribed for the condition also come with a slight risk of causing damage to the jaw bone.
4. Alzheimer’s Disease
A recent study led by the NIA scientists suggests that the bacteria that cause gum disease are linked with the progressing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias in the elderly. This, in turn, highlights the importance of good oral hygiene and dental care regime for older adults.
Right Oral Care for the Elderly
Here is how to maintain good oral hygiene in the elderly.
1. Regular brush and floss
Doctors recommend brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to prevent decay and infection.
2. Clean the dentures
Clean the dentures just like you would do to the actual teeth to remove any food particles and prevent the bacteria from building up inside the mouth. You can make use of mild soap or a denture cleaner to do the same.
3. Timely dental visits
Schedule regular dental appointments so that the doctor can thoroughly check the mouth for any signs of infection or bacteria buildup. In the case of elderly people, one can also book a geriatric doctor home visit for a basic examination.
We hope that the given information was helpful to make you understand the importance of oral hygiene and good dental health in the elderly for their overall wellbeing. Doing the best for our elders is what drives us at Emoha. For us, it is always #EldersFirst