How Does Old Age Affect Oral Health?

How Does Old Age Affect Oral Health?

Sep 01, 2022

Aging is a natural factor that comes with numerous changes. For instance, many senior adults are at a higher risk for serious health problems like diabetes, blood pressure, arthritis, eczema, cataracts, chronic pulmonary disease, depression, hearing loss, back pain, osteoarthritis, and dementia. Having any of these issues can cause numerous complications regarding oral health. For instance, diabetes can make your gums more susceptible to infections, leading to gum disease.

Similarly, arthritis in the hands and fingers can make oral hygiene difficult and expose one to oral infections like gum disease and cavities. Drugs or medication used to treat health conditions like diabetes, blood pressure, depression, and high cholesterol can expose one to oral issues like dry mouth, change in state, and bacterial infections.

What are the Common oral health problems in elderly adults?

  • Teeth staining

Due to the many years of consuming highly pigmented and acidic items like coffee, tea, tomato sauce, red wine, and citric fruits, teeth can get stained. Smoking, dental trauma, poor hygiene, and certain medications can also cause teeth staining among the elderly. Also, the enamel wears down over time, exposing more of the dentin and giving the teeth a darker yellow appearance. Sometimes tooth discoloration can indicate an underlying condition like tooth decay.

  • Dry mouth

Dry mouth is a common problem among the elderly. Dry mouth occurs when there’s less saliva production and flow. It can result from certain medications, diseases like Sjögren’s syndrome, and cancer treatments that use radiation to the neck and head areas.

Enough saliva is necessary to wash away bacteria and debris from the mouth. A dry mouth can make one susceptible to bad breath, oral thrush, and fun disease.

  • A diminished sense of taste

Loss or diminished sense of taste is common among the elderly. Certain conditions, medications, and treatments like dentures can put one at a higher risk of sensory loss.

  • Tooth decay

Over time, the enamel tends to wear down, making teeth vulnerable to damage. When the enamel is compromised, bacteria can infect the tooth’s pulp tissues, causing decay. A root canal treatment can help remove the infection and save the tooth.

  • Gum disease

Periodontal disease is prevalent among the elderly. It’s primarily caused by plaque and bacteria build-up in the mouth. Factors like smoking, poor-fitting dentures, certain diseases, certain medications, and poor diet can increase the risk of developing gum disease. Contact our dentist in Weymouth if your gums are receding, red, swollen, or discolored.

  • Tooth loss

Over the years, the teeth tend to weaken, making them more susceptible to damages that eventually lead to tooth loss. Tooth loss can also result from gum disease, accidents, and advanced gum disease. After losing teeth, the elderly can use dentures to improve their bite function for proper nutrition. Replacing missing teeth also improves speech and appearance.

  • Jawbone problems

Most senior adults have lost at least one natural tooth. Not replacing lost teeth on time can cause the underlying jawbone to deteriorate due to a lack of chewing activity. Teeth gaps can also cause the remaining teeth to shift out of position, causing a poor bite.

Tips to Maintain Excellent Oral Health

Below are tips to prevent oral issues and maintain good oral and overall health:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice daily.
  • Use fluoride-based toothpaste.
  • Floss at least once daily.
  • Sip water regularly to stay hydrated and stimulate saliva production.
  • Seek treatment for oral issues as soon as they arise.
  • Schedule frequent dental check-ups and cleanings.
  • Manage or seek treatment for medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.
  • Avoid tobacco products.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Consult your doctor if you have medications that cause a dry mouth and other issues.
  • Avoid hard, sticky, or chewy items, especially if you have dentures.
  • Avoid a diet high in sugar and acids.

Schedule an Appointment Today with our Dentist in Weymouth

For more information about old age and the importance of oral care, schedule a dentist appointment with Weymouth Dental Associates.

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