PROMOTING ORAL HEALTH IN SENIORS (via @therabreath)

18 Jun

dental_health

Practicing proper oral health at any age is important, especially when you grow older. As we age, our bodies change. We become more susceptible to certain kinds of diseases and illnesses. Because oral health is so closely linked to the health of the rest of your body, it is of the utmost importance to take care of your mouth once you get older.

Common oral health problems for seniors
While every patient is different, there are some commonalities when it comes oral health and seniors. More and more people are keeping their real teeth longer and not getting dentures, which means they need to take the best care of the teeth they have. In order to do this, they have to keep an eye out for the following problems:

  • Tooth decay
    Plaque is always building up on your teeth. Together, plaque and bacteria produce acid that can, over long periods of time, wear away the enamel on you teeth and cause cavities. Senors often experience a condition called gingival, which refers to gum recession. This gum recession will expose more of the tooth’s roots than when you were younger. Because more of your tooth is exposed, more is susceptible to plaque and tooth decay. Root cavities are common in seniors, so it is important to make sure you’re cleaning the area of your teeth close to your gums thoroughly.
  • Periodontal (gum) disease 
    Another problem that can be caused by plaque is gum disease, which in more serious cases is called periodontal disease. Basically this is when plaque and bacterial get up under the gums. This condition can cause pain and tooth loss. If you have pain in your gums, notice bleeding at the gum line or suspect some other problem, go and see your dentist. While some forms of gum disease can be treated with increased brushing and mouthwash, according to the National Institute on Aging, the more serious cases of gum disease need to be treated professionally.
  • Dry mouth
    While dry mouth itself is not going to hurt you, it allows bacteria and plaque to build up in your mouth, leading to things like tooth decay and gum disease. Dry mouth is common in many seniors because it is a symptom of several different types of medication. To combat this, try to take preventative measures: drink more water, stop smoking if you do and minimize alcohol consumption. If you take these steps and are still having issues, consult your dentist.
  • Mouth cancer 
    According to the American Cancer Society, mouth cancer generally affects people older than 62. This means once you get to be in your 60s you need to be on the lookout for symptoms, which include, sores or sore spots in the mouth, a lump in the mouth, pain in the mouth, a discolored part of the gums, and more. If you notice any of these symptoms or notice something else that looks suspicious, talk with your dentist.

Dentures
Complete or partial dentures are common among seniors. It is important for people with dentures to keep the dentures and the inside of their mouth clean. Brushing both your mouth and your dentures is important to prevent any oral health problems. Floss your dentures as well. This will remove what the brushing has missed. Proper denture care translates to proper oral health that then leads to overall good health. As always, if you have any questions about denture care or oral health in general, call your dentist.

Source: http://www.therabreath.com/articles/news/oral-care-industry-news/promoting-oral-health-in-seniors-36323.asp

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