The health of teeth and gums is often a window into overall wellness, and health issues can arise or become exacerbated due to poor dental care. Older adults face unique challenges in this area and should be appropriately diligent about caring for teeth and gums. Similar to the intestinal tract, the mouth contains bacteria although most of it is the good kind that can be protective against pathogens. However, if mouth develops an imbalance of “bad” bacteria, it can create larger health problems. Certain diseases such as pneumonia, cardiovascular disease and endocarditis can be adversely affected by the state of one’s oral health. Conversely, conditions such as osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s Disease and diabetes can contribute to the deterioration of oral health. Here are some important considerations and preventative care recommendations for seniors.
Special Considerations For Seniors
Being over 50 puts adults at risk for developing certain tooth and gum conditions. According to the CDC, some 68% of adults over the age of 65 have some type of gum disease and many experience dry mouth, tooth decay or mouth cancer. The natural aging process is partly to blame for this high percentage, but other underlying health conditions can play a part too, as well as certain prescription and over the counter medications. Seniors who have dexterity issues with hands and fingers due to conditions like arthritis may have difficulty properly caring for their teeth. Oral health problems that are particularly problematic for seniors include:
- Root decay in the gums.
- Stomatitis, a type of inflammation of the gums caused by dentures.
- Broken or decaying teeth, mostly due to gum disease.
- Oral thrush, an overgrowth of fungus in the mouth.
- Issues with jawbone being out of alignment.
- Troubling dry mouth.
- Reduced sense of taste.
- Yellowing or darkened teeth.
Dental Care Tips
As with many other health conditions, maintaining a healthy routine is important for keeping teeth and gums healthy. Plaque is an issue for people of all ages, but it can build up especially quickly on older teeth. Here are some important guidelines to keep teeth and gums in tip-top shape:
- Schedule regular dental checkups and professional teeth cleanings, and follow all guidelines provided by your dentist.
- Floss gums at least once per day.
- Brush teeth at least twice per day with a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash twice per day to remove excess food particles and neutralize bacteria.
- Replace toothbrushes every three months or when the bristles start to wear down.
- If dexterity is an issue, consider purchasing an electric toothbrush.
- Avoid tobacco and cut out excess alcohol consumption.
- Eat a diet rich in vegetables and fruits and cut out any excess sugar as this can lead to many health conditions, including gum disease.
At Lighthouse Senior Living, we believe that taking a holistic approach to health and carefully following preventative care recommendations are key to longevity. Contact us to learn more about our caring and supportive communities located in Ellicott City and Hopkins Creek(Baltimore County) or to schedule a tour.