As we age, maintaining good oral health becomes increasingly vital to our overall well-being. Dental care for aging adults is not only about preserving a radiant smile; it’s about ensuring a high quality of life. As time takes its toll, our teeth and gums can face a range of challenges, from tooth decay to gum disease.
Check out these alarming facts as presented on the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website.
|Untreated tooth decay. Nearly all adults (96%) aged 65 years or older have had a cavity; 1 in 5 have untreated tooth decay. |
Gum disease. A high percentage of older adults have gum disease. About 2 in 3 (68%) adults aged 65 years or older have gum disease. Tooth loss. Nearly 1 in 5 of adults aged 65 or older have lost all of their teeth. Complete tooth loss is twice as prevalent among adults aged 75 and older (26%) compared with adults aged 65-74 (13%). Having missing teeth or wearing dentures can affect nutrition, because people without teeth or with dentures often prefer soft, easily chewed foods instead of foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Oral cancer. Cancers of the mouth (oral and pharyngeal cancers) are primarily diagnosed in older adults; median age at diagnosis is 62 years.
Chronic disease. People with chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, heart diseases, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may be more likely to develop gum (periodontal) disease, but they are less likely to get dental care than adults without these chronic conditions. Also, most older Americans take both prescription and over-the-counter drugs; many of these medications can cause dry mouth. Reduced saliva flow increases the risk of cavities.
In this article, I will discuss the unique dental care for aging adults, the importance of regular dental visits, and strategies to address common age-related dental concerns.
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The Importance of Dental Care for Aging Adults
There are two parts to your dental visit. Your trained hygienist will scan for gum disease during your visit, and it is possible that they will take X-rays to find infections between your teeth.
Screening on the surface of your teeth will also be included in the assessment. A coating of plaque that carries bacteria can damage your teeth and cause cavities.
Brushing and flossing between your teeth as well as rinsing with fluoride is important dental care for aging adults, but it is not enough.
For both men and women, the importance of a regular dental check-up is important to maintain a better quality of life.
Common Dental Health Issues
If you are not taking care of your teeth and not visiting the dentist on a regular basis, then you are open to a lot of health issues.
Let’s talk about common dental health issues,
Cavities are uncomfortable areas in your mouth where the tooth area has been consumed by degradation and the base of a tooth has been uncovered. An indication of a problem might be when your tooth comes in contact with hot or cold foods or liquids.
Not until after some considerable damage to the tooth, will cavities show any signs. That’s why it is so essential to see your dentist regularly. It is easier to address early symptoms of dental erosion before they go too far.
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a prevalent concern among aging adults that demands careful attention. As we age, the risk of developing gum disease increases significantly.
This issue, which can be managed in the early phases but escalate to much more significant issues if neglected, are also another disadvantage of poor nutrition. Damage to your teeth, diseases, and other disorders can be caused by tooth decay or dental problems leading to gum disease.
The connection between dental health in aging adults and heart disease is a topic of growing interest among researchers and healthcare professionals.
Medical research has been proven that bacterial pathogens can penetrate your blood circulation and cause hardening and thickening of your arteries, trying to block the circulation of blood and laying the groundwork for a sudden cardiac arrest.
Dental Care for Aging Adults Health Tips
Schedule a dental checkup if you have not seen your dentist within the last six months. Also, make sure you fully implement the dental strategies that are mentioned below.
A bit of preventive therapy will go a long way.
1. Brushing and Flossing
Brushing and flossing are essential components of oral hygiene for aging adults, as they play a vital role in maintaining dental health and preventing various dental issues that become more common as we age.
To have a healthier mouth, cleaning your teeth regularly is key. The American Medical Association suggests that individuals follow the recommendations by using a toothbrush and antibiotic mouthwash at least two times a day as a cleaner.
Flossing extracts food from between your teeth and is important to your dental health. This can escalate to plaque buildup, which is difficult to remove with only brushing and will require your dentist to scrape it off.
2. Choosing the Appropriate Toothpaste
Choosing the best toothpaste for aging adults is essential to address the specific oral health concerns that can arise with age.
Here are some factors to consider:
- Floride Content
- Dry Mouth
- Gum Health
The one thing that is a must is that you choose a toothpaste that has the ADA stamp of approval on it.
3. Using Mouthwash
According to the ADA, there are two types of mouthwash: cosmetic and therapeutic (available over the counter and by prescription). Using mouthwash can help control plaque, gingivitis, bad breath, and tooth decay.
4. Scheduling Regular Dental Checkups
Usually, dental screenings require specialized treatment of the teeth. The only way to extract tartar from your teeth is with a skilled deep cleaning.
The frequency of dental visits for older adults can vary based on an individual’s oral health, medical conditions, and risk factors. It is recommended and highly advisable to see your dentist twice a year (every 6 months). You may need to see your dentist more depending on your dental needs.
5. Stop Smoking
To further lower the probability of contracting a periodontal disease and ensure a bright smile, the CDC suggests stop smoking completely.
Smoking can severely affect your dental health, and these effects become increasingly pronounced as you age.
The impact of smoking on your dental health as you age include.
- Increased Risk of Gum Disease
- Tooth Loss
- Oral Cancer
- Stained Teeth
- Dry Mouth
- Because of the importance of dental care for aging adults, you need to take into account your dental and physical health to live a life full of health and confidence.
- Remember, your dental health can and will impact your overall physical health. A great-looking smile will give you confidence and brighten up your day.
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