Elderly Oral Health Precautions & Treatments
As we age we see the importance of having a healthy body. Many seem to overlook or don’t realise the importance that oral health plays in overall health. The elderly population has some particular oral health outcomes that can easily be prevented with routine care, regular check ups and preventative maintenance procedures. In this article we will discuss dexterity limitations, the importance of preventative procedures and how replacing and restoring existing teeth can not only improve your smile but your overall health as well.
Some factors that contribute to the aging population decreasing oral health situation are; gum disease, untreated tooth decay, tooth loss, oral cancer and chronic disease.
Gum disease is the breakdown or infection of the supportive structures around the teeth like gum tissue and bone. It is mainly caused by calculus build up and bacteria that breakdown the supportive structures. Over time plaque hardens and gets below the gum line, without a professional cleaning (which is recommended at least 2-3 times per year for healthy adults) the plaque and bacteria invades and attacks the surrounding structures and breaks them down. Left unchecked this will eventually destroy the structures so much that people will experience tooth mobility and loss. By having regularly scheduled cleanings your dental hygienist can stay up on any changes in the tissue or bone health as well as removing the toxins that contribute to gum disease.
Tooth loss really has a domino effect in the mouth. Many people opt to extract that problem tooth. What they don’t realize is by extracting vs restoring the tooth, they then have set that area up for more problems. A short while after an extraction the surrounding teeth slowly tip towards the new opening in the arch and the tooth above it will hyperextend and grow into this space as well. This now puts all of these noted teeth in jeopardy. The best course of action is to make sure you restore the existing tooth and / or replace the space that has been created by the extraction with an implant, bridge or partial denture. This ensures the surrounding teeth stay nice and healthy and the function of the bite is restored so healthy foods can be eaten and nutrition stays up, which of course is so important for the elderly population.
Untreated decay can wreak havoc on a person’s health really pretty quickly.
“Most think of going to the dentist as an emergency situation instead of a preventative one.”
Think of your health like your car. In order for it to run well and get you to where you need to be you have to perform scheduled maintenance, keep it filled up and make sure you are taking care of the engine with proper oil changes etc. Well, the same goes for your body, prevention is your best friend, catching a problem early saves you a ton of headache, pain and money! By making sure you get in for your routine oral health visits, addressing decay issues when they are small and making sure to brush and floss daily you are way ahead of the curve! By using these simple, inexpensive and consistent actions you really save yourself a lot of headaches. Daily oral care can be difficult for the elderly population due to issues with dexterity and not being able to floss and brush properly. Thankfully there’s a tons of aids out there to help with this! Water flossers and power brushes when used correctly are able to reach areas in the mouth traditional brushes never could. Your dental care professional is happy to sit down and find aids that can help you keep your mouth in tip top shape!
Lastly, is coming to the realization that your mouth is a part of your body! I know, it’s true! Joking aside, it’s amazing how many people think of it as a separate entity though. The mouth is the gateway to the body, so by ensuring it is healthy we can really gauge the health of the rest of the body. Chronic disease and oral cancer are some things that will affect the tissues in the mouth. Dentists are trained to check all tissues and surrounding structures when you come in for your exam. Most perform an oral cancer assessment to determine your risk factor for developing diseases, cancers and precursors that are noted. Many vitamin deficiencies can also show themselves in the mouth which can help your dental professional determine if there should be a change in nutrition or vitamin supplementation to help with a patients health needs. Mainly smoking and drinking alcohol regularly will increase your oral health risk and decrease your overall health, so cutting back or stopping all together can have positive impacts both in your mouth and body as a whole!
The main thing we can take away from all this is that prevention is possible and will help set your body on course to thrive. We already exercise, eat right, rest well in order to stay healthy…. Let’s add regularly scheduled oral health maintenance to the list. If you take care of your teeth, your teeth will definitely take care of you! Make sure to contact the surgery to schedule your routine visit today!
September 3, 2021