Did you know that older adults can have aging teeth and gums that lead to more oral health problems? The fact is that after having the same set of teeth for decades, the wear and tear from eating and talking can lead to a decline in your oral health.
The issues that arise from this can lead to significant pain in your teeth, bleeding, or inflamed gums, and even gum infections. Here are some common dental problems in the elderly that you should look out for as well as general advice on how to prevent them.
Gum disease, also commonly known as periodontal disease, is caused by the bacteria from tartar and plaque. Smoking can also exacerbate any symptoms that you do have. As it progresses, you can start to experience red, irritated, and even bleeding gums.
A mild form of gum disease is gingivitis which occurs when plaque and bacteria build up in the area where your teeth meet gum tissue. If left untreated, it can damage both the gum tissue as well as the bone that supports your teeth, leading to disastrous consequences.
The lucky news is that gum disease is both treatable and preventable if you have proper dental care – this means brushing your teeth and flossing daily.
Tooth decay occurs when there is a build-up of acid and sugar in your mouth due to a diet with high sugar and a decrease in your saliva production. These diet choices often lead to a build-up of tartar and plaque in the mouth. If untreated, tooth decay can lead to cavities which can potentially cause you to lose your teeth. The best approach to this is to prevent tooth decay from occurring as far as possible, by brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and reducing the amount of high-sugar foods that you consume. Fluoride mouthwash can also help in certain cases.
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition that older adults are more prone to experiencing. This refers to decreased saliva production and can happen as a result of aging or because of medications. The problem with having less saliva is that acids and sugar can build up more easily, increasing your chances of problems like tooth decay and gum diseases.
On top of this, you might also experience a swollen tongue and dry cracked lips that affect your ability to swallow and speak. To combat this, it is important to hydrate regularly. If you find that this is a recurring issue or due to your medications, it can also be helpful to chew gum or lozenges to help with saliva production.
This is a gradual process where your gums shrink away. This leaves more of your teeth exposed over time and can cause increased sensitivity and a higher likelihood of contracting gum diseases. Once again, the prevention for this is to reduce the amount of sugar intake, stop smoking, and practice good dental hygiene.
If you or your loved one has been having problems taking care of yourselves, one option to get extra help is to consider moving into a senior living community. At a senior living community, there are different living options like independent living or assisted living where you or your loved one can have different levels of assistance with your day-to-day activities. Whether it is help with household maintenance, medication care, or even diabetes care, our professional team here at Mariposa is ready to help you round the clock.
For more information on our different services, housing options, or the programs that we offer, contact us today!