Dental health for seniors more than a smile

 

When we age, sometimes some aspects of our day-to-day get thrown to the wayside. While dental health is often overlooked, it’s incredibly important for seniors, as it can contribute to a whole host of more serious health issues. As we age, we have greater challenges with missing, or heavily restored teeth, as well as a higher rate of gum disease, root decay, and dry mouth – which means a greater need for more care.

But it goes beyond the mouth – dental health can have an impact on your overall body health, and can be connected to serious illnesses like:

Heart Disease

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, seniors with periodontal disease (an infection of the gums and bone) are twice as likely to develop artery or heart disease.

Pneumonia

Breathing in bacterial droplets (like from the bacteria present in your mouth) directly into the lungs makes seniors more susceptible to pneumonia, which, paired with other complications, can be fatal.

Dementia

The bacteria from gum disease like gingivitis can potentially enter the bloodstream, which can then enter the brain. If bacteria get into the brain, it can kill brain cells and change thought patterns. These kinds of changes in brain chemistry can lead to dementia or Alzheimer’s.

What you can do to improve your senior’s oral health

Luckily, with just a little extra care, you can ensure your loved one avoids some of the serious effects of poor oral health. Have them brush their teeth at least twice a day, and have them use toothpaste that contains fluoride. They should also rinse once or twice a day with a mouthwash to kill harmful bacteria in the mouth.

You can also improve their overall oral health with some dietary changes, including limiting high-sugar drinks, and increasing their calcium intake to strengthen their teeth.

It’s not hard to maintain your loved ones wonderful smile, and with just a little effort each day, they’ll be happy and healthy too. Got some more tips? How have you improved your loved one’s dental care? Let us know in the comments.

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