Advancing age can bring about a number of different changes that affect both general and dental health. Often senior citizens will be at increased risk of numerous oral health issues, but professional dental care for seniors at the Cosmetic Dentistry Center can help manage these risks.
Factors That Change Dental Care for Seniors Include:
- Dry mouth, a condition caused by a lack of saliva. Dry mouth or xerostomia may be due to cancer treatments, particularly radiation to the head and neck area, or it could be down to certain diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome or diabetes. It might also be due to taking particular medications.
- As we age our sense of taste can become reduced. This may be due to wearing dentures that cover up taste buds, or as a side effect of certain diseases or medications.
- The expression “long in the tooth” is sometimes used to refer to older people and is due to gum recession exposing more of the tooth surfaces as we age. Gum recession can increase the risk of decay in a tooth root, as this area is not covered by a hard layer of protective dental enamel and is much more vulnerable to being attacked by bacteria in the mouth.
- Gum disease is often caused by poor oral hygiene, but can be exacerbated by tobacco use, poorly fitting bridges and dentures and a poor diet. Older people are often affected by diseases such as cancer, anemia and diabetes, all of which can increase the risk of gum disease.
- One of the main side effects of gum disease is tooth loss, and seniors are more likely to have missing teeth.
- Loss of bone in the jaw can be caused by missing teeth. This is because the jawbone no longer receives any stimulation from tooth roots that previously told it to continue renewing old bone cells. Loss of bone can affect appearance and will make it more difficult to retain dentures.
- Stomatitis can be due to wearing poorly fitting dentures or poor oral hygiene. It can also be caused by a buildup of Candida albicans, where the tissue underneath the denture becomes inflamed.
- People who are taking certain medicines or who have diseases that affect the immune system are more at risk of Thrush, a condition caused by an overgrowth of Candida albicans in the mouth.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that a decline in dental care for seniors is inevitable, but there’s little doubt medical conditions can be a determining factor. If you develop arthritis in your hands or fingers, it can make basic oral hygiene difficult to maintain as it will be much trickier to manipulate a toothbrush and dental floss.
If you are a little older, there are lots of things you can do to maintain good oral health. Make sure you brush at least twice a day and floss once a day. If you have difficulty using a manual toothbrush think about investing in an electric toothbrush as this can be much easier to use. Dental floss can be tricky to manipulate at the best of times, but there are lots of other tools on the market, including interdental brushes and soft picks. Alternatively you could look at purchasing an electric water flosser that removes plaque through squirting pressurized water in between teeth.
Your dentist at the Cosmetic Dentistry Center can give you lots of advice on providing dental care for seniors. Regular exams are important, but if you notice any changes in between appointments then contact your dentist for advice.
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