Dental care for seniors is a topic that seldom receives the attention it deserves. Seniors are more likely to suffer from a multitude of oral health issues due to the natural aging process, poor oral hygiene, or lack of oral health care due to financial constraints.
It’s wise to keep in mind that our teeth and gums can become more susceptible to decay and infection with age. Therefore, it’s more important for seniors to consult a dental expert to prevent further dental problems.
Unfortunately, many seniors risk ignoring tooth decay and infection until there is no alternative but to have their teeth removed – which is the only dental treatment covered by certain state aid programs such as Medicaid or Medicare.
Dental Complications in Seniors
Advancing age can put many seniors at risk for several oral health problems, such as:
- Darkened teeth – This condition is caused by lifestyle factors, such as changes in dentin, and a lifetime of eating food and beverages that stain. It’s also because the outer enamel layer is thinning, which allows darker and yellower dentin to show through. A darkened tooth or teeth might indicate underlying health conditions.
- Dry mouth – Dry mouth is caused by a lack of saliva flow, which can be caused by cancer therapies that utilize radiation to the head and neck region and certain medications. A dry mouth can lead to an increase in cavities and fungal infections such as thrush.
- A diminished sense of taste – Advanced age depletes one’s sense of taste. Dentures, illnesses, and medicines can also contribute to this loss of taste as well.
- Root decay – Root decay is the most common and well-known reason for tooth discomfort. Gum tissue recedes from the teeth as it deteriorates. The roots are more susceptible to decay because they have no enamel to protect them.
- Gum disease – Gum diseases are caused by plaque and food remaining in teeth, tobacco use, ill-fitting bridges and dentures, poor eating habits, and various conditions, including anemia, cancer, and diabetes.
- Uneven jawbone – This happens when teeth are lost and the missing ones aren’t replaced. The gaps allow the rest of the teeth to drift and shift into vacant regions.
- Tooth loss – Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss.
- Denture-induced stomatitis – It occurs due to ill-fitted dentures or Candida Albicans fungus buildup (inflammation of the tissue underlying a denture) or poor dental hygiene.
- Thrush – Caused by diseases or drugs that affect the immune system. This can trigger the overgrowth of the fungus in the mouth.
Dental Hygiene for Seniors
- Rinse your teeth with mouthwash after brushing, flossing, and rinsing with water to keep them clean.
- Use toothbrushes that are specifically designed to clean hard-to-reach areas of the mouth.
- Don’t ignore the warning signs like increased tooth sensitivity, teeth grinding, pains, mouth sores, bumps and swellings, loose teeth, jaw popping, dry mouth, and bad breath.
- Visit your dentist as often as recommended (twice a year).
- Keep your dental appliances in proper condition.
- Consider seeing your dentist before and after surgery.
- Speak to your dentist about medications you are taking.
Dental Care in Harrisburg, NC
Unfortunately, seniors often neglect dental care, but it’s a vital part of their overall health and well-being. Seniors need to maintain good oral health so that they can continue to enjoy their golden years.
Our dental experts at Icard & Strein Family Dentistry are here to provide the care for our elderly patients. We offer a variety of services such as cleanings, fillings, extractions, and dentures – all designed to improve seniors’ oral health and quality of life.
If you’re a senior in need of dental care, please don’t hesitate to call us on 704.455.5003 or visit our clinic today!
Our Harrisburg NC Dentist Office
To learn more about dental treatments from Icard & Strein Family Dentistry, or to schedule an appointment, call our Harrisburg, NC dental office today at 704.455.5003.