Our bodies change as we grow older, especially our teeth. This is why elderly dental care should be part of the overall senior care. In addition, seniors are at such a high risk of heart disease and diabetes, which also increases the occurrence of dental health problems.
Proper senior dental care can prevent simple problems like gum disease, toothache, or cavities. But beyond that, the following are the critical benefits of dental health care for the elderly:
Reduce the Risk of Pneumonia
Older adults are at a high risk of developing pneumonia. It can be due to poor hygiene, smoking, or bacterial infection through the mouth. The bacteria or viruses that cause pneumonia can enter through an opening in the mouth and travel up to the lungs.
Good dental health among seniors can easily prevent this from happening. A dentist that specializes in elderly dental care can address and curb this risk.
Reduce the Oral Health Risks of Diabetes
Around 33% of adults over the age of 65 have diabetes. This metabolic disorder can wreak havoc on the body and cause a slew of dental health problems.
The excessive levels of glucose in the saliva allow bacteria to proliferate in the mouth. When not addressed, this can lead to gum disease, inflammation, and progressive tooth decay. It will also increase the risk of other infections.
Preventing Further Tooth Loss
Tooth loss is common among seniors, but it can be prevented with proper dental care. This will avoid the loss of all the teeth by the time the person reaches 65 years old.
Take note that total tooth loss will affect the senior’s nutrition since it will be more difficult to eat. It will be harder for them to eat nutritious food like fruits and veggies.
Curbing the Risk of Oral Cancer
Seniors who smoke cigarettes or pipes are at a high risk of oral cancer. The damage smoking does to the teeth makes the gums weaker and prone to infection. In addition, the chemicals in tobacco can cause genetic changes in the mouth cavity cells that will trigger oral cancer.
Reduce Dry Mouth
Many seniors complain of dry mouth as a side effect of the medications they take. This is very uncomfortable, not to mention that lack of saliva will allow pathogens to thrive in the person’s mouth. Regular dental care can help reduce this discomfort.
Ensure Proper Brushing Technique
Elderly individuals tend to neglect their oral hygiene to physical pains and aches. In addition, some would forget to brush their teeth or won’t be able to do so due to poor mobility.
Caregivers should ensure that they include dental care for seniors on their checklist. This will help prevent common mouth problems associated with poor brushing.
Elderly dental care is often overlooked and not integrated as part of overall senior care. This is why caregivers and health care providers alike should provide focus to dental health as with other health needs. While tooth loss and gum disease are common among seniors, it shouldn’t be a life sentence. Instead, proper care can prevent or delay these problems.