Oral Health Problems Common in Seniors

Your oral health plays a significant role in your overall health and each stage of life presents its own unique oral health challenges. For senior adults, these can often be overlooked. However, addressing some of these dental problems can make a profound difference in quality of life.

For many seniors, brushing and flossing can be compromised as arthritis or dementia sets in. Older patients may also find that eating is more difficult, because of ill-fitting dentures, gum disease, missing teeth or tooth decay, causing an unhealthy, unbalanced diet. Here are three common oral health issues that our older patients face:

Children are not the only ones at risk for cavities. Oral decay is also common in seniors. In fact, 92% of adults 65 and older have had dental caries in their permanent teeth, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. This is likely a result of poor brushing habits and the tendency for older patients to not see their dentist as regularly.
Dry mouth
Also called xerostomia, dry mouth is an extremely common problem for a lot of seniors. The Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that 20% of elderly people suffer from dry mouth and reduced salvia can mean a higher vulnerability to tooth decay. Many seniors suffer from dry mouth because of their medications, including decongestants, antihistamines, blood pressure medications, pain pills, incontinence medications, antidepressants, diuretics, muscle relaxers, and Parkinson’s disease medications. To help counter this, seniors should increase their fluid intake. There are also remedies that your dentist can suggest for dry mouth relief.
Gum Disease
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and surrounding tissues that hold teeth in place. Gum disease typically becomes worse as people age. Advanced gum disease can cause sore gums and pain when chewing, eventually leading to tooth loss.

Proper brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly can prevent gum disease and many other dental problems at any phase of life. At Park South Dentistry, we understand the unique concerns of senior adults. If dexterity or arthritis is keeping you from effectively cleaning your teeth, we can recommend a better suited toothbrush or flossing option, such as a modified-handle toothbrush, power toothbrush, or water flossers, all of while can be excellent solutions for senior adults.

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