Keeping Your Mouth Healthy Through your Senior Years
- Posted on: Feb 28 2018
Aging is a process that may give us the illusion of a natural “wearing out” of various body parts. Our joints become creaky and stiff. Our teeth become dull and yellow and may seem to damage more easily. This idea, in particular, is false. Our teeth can last us our lifetime. We don’t have to suffer multiple dental concerns every time we see the dentist. Here, we want to point out why dental health is important to seniors and what can be done to support healthy teeth and gums.
Oral Health Important at Every Age
Dental health isn’t just on your breath. It doesn’t revolve around a smile that looks good. It even extends beyond avoiding painful cavities and other infection. In the big picture, the mouth is a vital aspect of the body and an area that can affect others. Here’s what research shows:
- Oral bacteria can make its way from the mouth to the heart through the bloodstream. When this happens, the resulting, chronic inflammation increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Ultimately, conditions like gum disease are perceived as biomarkers for cardiac events such as heart attack.
- The bacteria that proliferate in the mouth can also travel to the lungs, where their presence increases the risk of lung infection and pneumonia.
- Diabetic seniors are in greater need of ongoing dental care to manage the issue of gum disease. The dual-effect of being diabetic is that it is difficult to manage blood sugar, which increases the risk of gum disease. Likewise, gum disease poses a challenge to the management of blood sugar.
Oral Care Tips for Seniors
There are several strategies that are particularly good for seniors, including:
- Frequent brushing and flossing. Research indicates that dental plaque and tartar accumulate more quickly, and is more difficult to remove, after the age of 50. During mid-life and the senior years, daily brushing and flossing become even more important.
- Maximize oral care with an electric toothbrush. The older we get, the more dexterity we may lose. Seniors can benefit from using an electric or sonic toothbrush with a small head that can more easily reach the back of the mouth.
- Be mindful of the gums. Brushing too hard is a problem all on its own. The use of an electric or sonic toothbrush can aid in this area, too, minimizing the pressure that is placed on the toothbrush during oral care. What we want to prevent here are gum recession and abrasions.
- Take care of dentures. Dentures, even though they are resistant to corrosion, can harbor bacteria. Daily cleaning is necessary to prevent buildup that can cause bad breath and gum disease.
These are just a few of the ways that seniors can protect the health of their mouth. For more tips and personal dental care, call our Beverly Hills office at 310-276-4537.