How critical is a healthy mouth to your physical health? According to medical experts, it is very difficult to be in good physical condition if your oral health isn’t as good as it should be. In fact, many doctors think of the mouth as a “opening to wellness.”
Recent studies have shown that the correlation between oral health and overall body health is even closer than what was previously believed.
For seniors, maintaining oral health becomes doubly important. This is because as you age, you become more susceptible to both dental issues and diseases of all kinds. Not only can dental health affect your general health, it can also reflect it.
In order to protect your dental and general health as you approach your golden years, Simply Smiles Dental offers seniors, and those who love them, information about dental health in the golden years.
Representative Dental Problems Associated with Ageing
Ageing brings renewed focus on some older dental issues and also introduces a few new ones:
- Cavities and root decay
- Darkened teeth
- Increased tooth sensitivity to heat and cold
- Dry mouth
- Dentures and their associated care
- Decreased sense of taste.
- Gum disease.
Normal Oral Health Changes and Responses
Some changes are predictable, and require attention and not necessarily worry.
Gum disease is a very common infection, and it can sometimes be defeated, returning the gums to health. Also referred to as periodontal disease, gum disease can often be avoided through proper hygiene and regular visits to a dentist to ensure proper cleaning of the infection.
The wearing down of teeth from use, or “attrition”, is commonly found in older adults. A dentist can check to ensure that this is not causing pain or damage and confirm whether or not teeth should be pulled and/or replaced.
Medications can cause cavities, so a careful eye should be kept on general oral hygiene and the side effects of prescriptions. Generally, these side effects can be avoided through proper diet and hygiene.
Dry mouth, especially as a result of medications, occurs in many older adults. Dry mouth is by a reduced amount of saliva produced by the glands in the mouth, which can affect the abilities to speak, chew, and swallow. Dry mouth can also cause teeth to break down prematurely. These effects are typically managed by changing medications.
Abnormal Oral Health Changes
While some changes are to be expected, there are some changes that should be avoided. If these conditions present themselves, see your Simply Smiles dentist immediately!
Gingivitis and periodontal disease, when left untreated, can become destructive. When gums recede, tiny pockets form in them. These are prone to infection and can break down the gums further and even extend into the bone. If infection reaches the bone it can lead to tooth loss and worse. People with diabetes, smokers, and people who are taking medications increase the risk of this disease. If a senior has one or more risk factors, gums should frequently be checked by a dentist and good dental home-care becomes a must.
Cancerous growths or painful lesions can result from smoking, drinking alcohol, allergic reactions, or genetics. Your dentist should check for these to assess their danger and establish the best way to treat them.
Massive tooth loss, sometimes resulting in dentures, can have a massive effect on senior health. Removal of most or all of the teeth typically brings on serious oral health complications, and can reduce self-esteem. Some seniors withdraw socially or eat less, which has negative implications for general health. However, removing teeth that are infected or rotten should not be avoided since they can cause other problems or spread infections into the jawbone.
Taking Care of Your Teeth
Take good care of your teeth at home:
- Brush at least twice a day. Be sure to use an antibacterial toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Make sure to floss at least once a day.
- Try using an antibacterial mouthwash (without alcohol) at least once a day. This can help kill bacteria and control plaque.
And be sure to:
- Go for regular dental cleanings every 6 months (more often if directed by your dental professional).
- Tell your dental professional if you notice any symptoms of gum disease, such as bleeding and swelling.
- Ask your dentist to talk to your doctor if you need to have dental surgery. You may need to change your medicine or take a new one to help prevent infection.
Get a Full, Healthier Smile at Simply Smiles Dental
At Simply Smiles Dental, we aim to give you the smile and dental health of your dreams, and we can do it for patients of any age!
Our office is in Toorak Village and serves patients from Toorak, South Yarra, Prahran, Windsor, Southbank, South Melbourne, Port Melbourne, Malvern, Albert Park, Melbourne CBD, and other metro areas.
We are a Medibank and HCF Members Choice Dentist as well as an HCF Members Choice Dentist.
Special Offer for New Senior Patients
- No Gap for Checkup and Clean for Medibank, Bupa, HCF and CBHS
- FREE Dental Implants Consultation