Life Cycle Dental says teeth and gums affect overall health. Learn what diseases show in the mouth and what oral health does for overall wellness of seniors.
More than 35 million Americans are 65 and older, states the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, and the senior population grows each year. That means oral health care for seniors must increase, too.
Life Cycle Dental wants to educate seniors and caregivers
The American Dental Association maintains that oral health and systemic health are intertwined. In other words, what goes on in the mouth affects the body and vice versa. If the mouth is a window to the health of the body, what do seniors need to know and do about their oral health? Michael L. Morgan DDS and Brandon Trevino DDS advise 6-month check-ups and cleanings for their senior patients and advise caregivers of frail seniors avail their loved ones of excellence geriatric dental care through Life Cycle Dental.
What oral health for seniors looks like
Seniors are prone to the same tooth and gum issues younger people are–tooth decay, tooth sensitivity, gum disease, TMJ dysfunction, sleep apnea. The list goes on. However, some of these conditions have a special senior twist due to simple aging, wear and tear and overall health.
Here’s what Drs. Morgan and Trevino find in their senior patients.
Thrush. Yeast proliferates in the senior oral cavity when dentures are improperly maintained. Partial and full dentures require daily brushing or soaking in an ADA-approved denture product. Also, seniors should brush their gums, tongue, hard palate and cheeks to remove food residues. These hygiene practices cut down on deleterious oral bacteria. Additionally, thrush sometimes indicates high blood sugar, a sign of uncontrolled diabetes, or a suppressed immune system.
Gum disease. Smoking and poor oral hygiene lead to periodontitis, a major cause of tooth loss in adult Americans. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research states that almost 18 percent of seniors have advanced gum disease, a condition leading to bad breath, tooth mobility and tooth loss. Gum disease is linked to serious systemic health problems, too–diabetes, dementia, arthritis, heart disease and stroke, to name just a few.
Cavities. Most American adults have experienced dental decay. With seniors, the decay often centers in tooth roots which, over time, have become exposed because of gum disease, medications or simple aging. Seniors should continue with good brushing and flossing to reduce decay and may benefit from fluoride treatments to protect enamel and roots. Fluoride also helps with tooth sensitivity.
Oral cancer strikes more than 46,000 American adults each year. The chances of developing this potential killer increase with age. So, seniors should receive oral cancer screenings with their 6-month check ups and also be aware of any changes in their oral mucosa, how their dentures fit or teeth bite together, or any lumps, sores or swellings that last for more than 2 weeks. Tobacco users and men over 60 are particularly prone to oral cancers.
Dry mouth or xerostomia affects seniors on certain medications and also those who smoke, are on cancer medication and oxygen therapy. Dry mouth leads to increased gum disease, decay and bad breath. The doctors at Life Cycle Dental recommend drinking lots of water daily to stimulate saliva production and may also prescribe mouth-moisturizing rinses if warranted.
Prevention is best
Seniors and caregivers should avail themselves of the best preventive dental services available for the healthiest, longest lasting smiles possible. Why not contact Life Cycle Dental for more information on preventive dentistry for seniors?