Senior man in dental chair looking at an x-ray

The Importance of Senior Dental Health Care

As you grow older, there are many health concerns to think about. One of the most important aspects is oral care. Better dental habits may seem like a small thing, but they’re vital to one’s overall health. One of the most crucial aspects of senior care is oral health. Medical studies have shown that oral health is closely related to general health, and maintaining proper oral care can be one way of ensuring a better quality of life.

Let’s look at other reasons why dental health care should be a priority for seniors…

Guard Against Heart Disease

Gum disease and heart disease can affect anyone at any age. However, seniors are more susceptible to it, as their teeth are already sensitive and aging. According to the American Heart Association, poor dental habits can lead to cardiovascular disease and stroke. This can happen if the bacteria which cause gum infection pass from the mouth into the bloodstream and begin to cause heart problems. You can imagine how dangerous this might be for an older person who already has a weak heart.

Combat Bacteria

When older adults have poor oral care habits, they can be more susceptible to lung diseases. The bacteria from their teeth begin to penetrate deeper areas of their body. Pneumonia is one common illness that some seniors are at risk of due to poor dental health.

Prevent Tooth Discoloration

The bone-like tissue underneath the enamel of teeth can change and weaken with age. Darkened or discolored teeth may be the result of a lifetime of bad eating habits or poor dental care. Some beverages and foods, such as coffee or wine, are known to stain the teeth. The older a person, the more they should pay attention to the types of foods they eat. The use of tobacco products can also be linked to teeth discoloration.

Prevent Dry Mouth Side Effects

Many seniors must take daily medications, that can cause dry mouth. When there is inadequate saliva in the mouth, the body is more prone to viruses and bacteria. This can lead to bad breath and other common oral diseases.

Prevent Loss of Teeth

When dentures are loose or not replaced, the other teeth may shift and grow unevenly. The crooked appearance is due to those other teeth growing into spaces left by the teeth which have fallen out. This could lead to painful jaw issues, problems eating or even speaking and controlling their mouth.

Age and Medical Conditions

As you can see from the above points, it’s essential that seniors take care of their dental health. However, the challenge many may face is a daily one: some suffer from weak joints or problems such as arthritis. This makes it difficult for them to move their hands and fingers and perform simple tasks such as flossing or brushing their teeth. Others may suffer from memory loss, so they simply forget about brushing their teeth altogether.

Prioritizing Dental Care

It’s recommended that seniors have regular dental checkups every six months. They should be in communication with qualified dentists and periodontists. If they are not aware of the above health risks, they should be given the opportunity to learn how they can prevent these issues and maintain good oral health.

Top Oral Care Tips for Seniors

If you are caring for an elderly person, here are some easy health tips you can share with them:
  • Brush teeth at least twice every day
  • Use a toothpaste with fluoride and bacteria-fighting qualities
  • Use an electric toothbrush, as it is more effective and easier to use for those who have joint problems
  • Floss every day
  • Use antiseptic mouthwash to combat any bacteria left after flossing and brushing
  • Clean dentures daily
  • Avoid using tobacco and other products that discolor the teeth (such as coffee, tea, and red wine)
  • Schedule regular dental check-ups
  • Eat plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and lessen sugar intake

Contact Us

If your loved one lives in an assisted living residence, one advantage is that if there are any health problems, the doctors, nurses and other professionals can help. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

Having a supportive community will enable your loved one to have access to health care, professional dentists, and support at all times.

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