Elderly ones that are suffering from cognitive health disorders, like dementia, can have difficulty taking care of their teeth.
As we age, some of the good habits we used to have we tend to let fall by the wayside. Good dental health is often one of the personal hygiene steps that gets forgotten. However, dental health is connected to the health of our entire body, so it’s important that our senior loved ones have someone to remind or help them keep their oral health a priority.
Reasons Why Senior Oral Health is Essential
There are a number of common senior dental problems. Oral health is directly linked to the health of the rest of the body and therefore, these issues need to be taken seriously. It is just as important to take care of elderly teeth and gums as digestive or heart health.
Here are some reasons why senior dental care is so important:
- Diabetes – Elderly patients with diabetes need to have good oral care as well as regular dental checkups. Periodontitis, or severe gum disease, hinders the body’s ability to use insulin. One of the effects of diabetes is high blood sugar which can lead to infections in the gums.
- Heart Disease – Research suggests that there could be a link between periodontal disease and heart disease. Maintaining good oral health may be a powerful weapon against strokes, heart attacks, and other heart disease issues.
- Gum Disease – This is caused by plaque and food that is left on the teeth. It can also be caused by an unhealthy diet, poor fitting dentures and bridges, and diseases like cancer, anemia, and diabetes. Gum disease can cause tooth loss and can be a very serious issue for the overall health of the body.
- Dry Mouth – This is often a side effect of taking certain types of medications as well as cancer treatments which use radiation to the head or neck area. Saliva is important because it keeps the mouth wet and protects the teeth from decay and prevents infection. Saliva does this by controlling the bacteria, fungi, and viruses in the mouth.
- Root Decay – Root decay is a common problem for the elderly. When the roots of a tooth become exposed because the gum tissue receded from the tooth, there is no protection for the root and it makes it prone to decay.
How Age Affects Oral Health
On its own, age doesn’t necessarily affect good oral health. Rather, certain medical conditions such as arthritis in the fingers or hands can make the task of brushing and flossing almost impossible to perform. Others are genetically predisposed to dental issues. Elderly ones that are suffering from cognitive health disorders, like dementia, can have difficulty taking care of their teeth.
Ways to Improve Senior Dental Health
If you are helping to care for a senior loved one, there are a number of things you can do to help them with their oral health. Some of these things include:
- Brushing teeth at least twice a day with toothpaste containing fluoride
- Use an electric toothbrush with soft bristles
- Use floss or another inter-dental cleaner
- Rinse with mouthwash at least once a day
- Clean dentures daily and remove them at night
- Drink plenty of water
- Quit smoking which can lead to gum disease and tooth decay
- Go to the dentist for regular check-ups
- Eat a healthy diet that include dairy and foods high in fiber
How Sedation Dentistry Can Help
While you may be able to help your loved one keep their teeth clean, it may not be so easy when it comes to getting them to the dentist. Elderly patients often have dental anxiety or they have health issues that make going to the dentist difficult.
At The Dental Anesthesia Center, Dr. Hoffmann and Dr. Thoms complete dental procedures for patients with Special Needs requiring general anesthesia or sedation. Individuals with special physical or mental needs can receive complete dental care in a comfortable setting. Patients with special needs can have a thorough exam that includes taking x-rays and receiving a dental cleaning with general anesthesia. The Dental Anesthesia team is compassionate and here to help patients accomplish dental care that they may have never had before.
Call Us Today
The Only Board Certified Dental Anesthesiologists in the State of Missouri, including the St. Louis Metro Area.