Oral Care for the Older Adult
- Posted on: Feb 15 2018
To be referred to as an “older adult” or “senior” may have, at one point, incited a bit of stress. At the very least, to recognize inclusion in the aging population may feel somewhat unpleasant. Of course, aging has increasingly become something we can enjoy. We’ve got ways to diminish the cosmetic signs of aging, and we even have treatments that can help us manage the telltale aches and pains that come with age. Finally, we’ve got strategies that can be implemented as needed to help us manage important aspects of health like our smile.
The Smile as a Signpost of Health
Historically, the smile has been somewhat of a signpost of age. A person with deeply discolored teeth may be perceived as older. Tooth loss, as well, and gum recession, were indicators of advanced age (though that typically meant what we call middle-age!). Today, we look at the smile more objectively, and we rely on research data to help us understand how the mouth affects the body. Here are some of the details that all adults should know:
- Heart health may be affected by the presence of oral disease. Periodontitis is a condition related to bacteria in the mouth. Research has also demonstrated the correlation between heart disease and bacteria in arterial plaque. To that end, experts often look at gum disease as a risk factor for cardiac problems.
- Studies have also found bacteria in the lungs. It isn’t so much that there are bacteria, but that the bacteria in the lungs is also in the mouth. This transition from the mouth to the lungs increases a person’s risk for infection and pneumonia.
- Type II diabetes is a chronic condition that is more likely to occur in adulthood. Studies indicate that the suppression of the immune system related to diabetes sets the stage for gum disease. Likewise, though, studies have demonstrated that gum disease poses a challenge in the regulation of blood sugar.
Prolonging Oral Health through the Senior Years
Oral care works because it removes bacteria that can cause disease. Without adequate care, teeth and gums – and the body – are at risk. Therefore, our objective in senior dental care is to maximize the ease and efficiency of daily practices.
- Hand stiffness can diminish dexterity and make it difficult to brush back teeth. An electric or sonic toothbrush can enhance the reach and reduce stress by doing the work for you.
- Flossing may also be difficult when hands are stiff or in pain. A flossing tool or water irrigator can clean in between teeth without you having to hold floss between your fingers.
- Denture care is also important! Your dentist can suggest ways to keep dentures clean without causing tiny scratches in acrylic.
There are several ways to combat some of the age-related changes that affect the mouth. For personal assistance from your Clyde dentist, call (828) 627-9282.
Posted in: Oral Health