As people get older, it becomes more important than ever to maintain good oral health.
Indications are that infections in the mouth may be associated with serious medical conditions common in older adults such as heart disease and diabetes, so for healthy ageing, it is absolutely essential that we continue to make oral health a priority.
However as we get older, a number of additional factors which can have a negative effect on the health of our mouths and teeth come into play. These include:
Many seniors take regular medication for conditions such as high blood pressure and depression and one of the side effects of these can be a dry mouth. Since saliva helps protect teeth against decay, it’s important that this isn’t left untreated and that steps are taken to restore moisture in the mouth.
Maintaining good oral health can be challenging for those with poor eyesight because they simply can’t see when their teeth are cleaned properly.
When someone is unable to hold a toothbrush for a period of time or move it around to reach all areas or the mouth because of impaired movement caused by arthritic joints, their oral health can be compromised.
Gums naturally recede over time and as a result, the mouth may become more sensitive – making it difficult to clean effectively. To prevent plaque building up, tooth decay and gum disease, it’s important that older people visit a dentist regularly in order to treat these conditions.
Dentures and dental implants are common procedures among older adults but these require ongoing special care to ensure that they are fitted properly.
What’s more, if an older person is distracted by another ailment or is very frail, then it’s very easy for them to neglect their oral health – and that can be detrimental to their overall health.
Regardless of how old a person is, the same principles of good oral hygiene apply – and that is to maintain a routine of brushing at least twice a day, flossing at least once a day and visiting a dentist regularly. In fact, as a person ages, it becomes even more important for them to develop a relationship with a caring and gentle dentist who is aware of the general state of their health and who will work with them (and their loved ones or carers if necessary) to promote their overall health and wellbeing.