The older people get, the more unique health challenges they begin to face on a daily basis. In America, the number of seniors over the age of 65 is projected to rise to roughly 71 million by 2040, and the number of individuals over the age of 85 is expected to rise to approximately 10 million by the year 2030. That means 81 million Americans today will need to start paying closer attention to their health in order to meet the rising challenges that comes with aging. Seniors who want to continue living healthy and happy lives well into their golden years should make sure that taking care of their oral health remains a top priority.
When it comes to their oral health, seniors deal with a variety of conditions that don’t generally affect younger individuals. Certain types of medications seniors take, for example, might cause them to experience dry mouth, which reduces the amount of saliva the mouth produces, and makes eating, swallowing, and talking more difficult. Less saliva in the mouth leaves harmful acids produced by plaque on the teeth for longer periods of time, which causes serious damage to your teeth’s enamel and can eventually lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Medication can also cause a diminishing in a senior’s sense of taste, as can wearing dentures. Individuals who wear dentures that fail to perform proper dental hygiene can begin experiencing the buildup of the fungus Candida albicans in their mouths. This can lead to the development of denture-induced stomatitis, which causes tissue inflammation along the gum line. Candida albicans can also lead to the formation of painful lesions around the roof of your mouth, tonsils, gums, and back of the throat caused by the medical condition, thrush.
A lifetime of use can cause a variety of cosmetic issues to a senior’s teeth, such as stained or darkened teeth, chipped teeth, gum disease, and loose teeth. Gum disease, which can be caused by the use of tobacco products, poor dental hygiene, ill-fitting bridges and dentures, poor diet, and several types of disease, is more likely to develop in seniors than younger individuals, and can lead to the loss of teeth and an uneven jawbone. Certain medical conditions, such as arthritis in the hands and recovering from stroke, can make brushing and flossing difficult for seniors, and helps contribute to the higher percentage of seniors with gum disease.
Dental Habits for Seniors
Brushing and flossing daily remains just as important to your oral health when you’re 80 as it did when you were 8, and will always remain a necessity for enjoying strong teeth and healthy gums. Regular checkups and cleanings become even more important for seniors. Scheduling an appointment with Dr. Walker will give her an opportunity to examine your bite; check for any swelling of the lymph nodes or salivary glands; examine any sores, moles, or discoloration of the gums; and perform an oral cancer screening if necessary. Checkups will also give you the opportunity to address any issues you might be experience with Dr. Walker, and ask her any questions you might have about your oral health as well.