Oral Health Month
Oral Health and your needs. With aging comes the need to pay more attention to the body and oral health. April is Oral Health Month, which provides an opportunity to spread awareness about proper hygiene and the consequences of neglect.
Poor oral health can lead to several problems for the older generation. Whether a senior receives personal care services or attends to their own personal hygiene, the mouth needs the same amount of attention as the rest of the body.
There are several dental concerns that come with aging. They include:
- Gum disease
- Darkened teeth
- Root decay
- Tooth loss
- Dry mouth
- Sense of taste is lessened
- Uneven jawbone
While aging can and will cause some of these health issues, maintaining a regular routine of oral hygiene will help alleviate and postpone some of these problems. Taking medication for other health issues may bring the need to change your routine. This matter can be discussed with your dentist.
The Effect of Poor Oral Health on Seniors
Although the body will naturally change as one gets older, it is still necessary for seniors to take care of their teeth, gums and mouth. Otherwise, these issues will be more pronounced and uncomfortable.
Several things cause gum disease. Ill-fitted dentures and bridges, poor diets, plaque, and tobacco products are contributors to this disease. Also, other medical issues like anemia, cancer and diabetes are causes of gum disease.
Darkened teeth are caused by a change in the bone-like tissue under the tooth enamel. The bone-like tissue is called dentin. Stain-causing food and drinks add to this problem after a lifetime of consumption.
Root Decay, Tooth Loss and Uneven Jawbone
Acids cause root decay. The exposure of the teeth to these acids causes the roots to pull away from the teeth. Gum disease is the main cause of tooth loss. Tooth loss causes the uneven jawbone.
Stomatitis and Thrush
The fungus Candida albicans is a medical issue that is caused by poor oral health. Ill-fitted dentures as well as poor dental hygiene cause the fungus to build up. In turn, this results in the inflammation of the tissue beneath the denture.
Thrush is another oral health issue resulting from an affected immune system that is caused by the fungus Candida albicans. Triggered by medications and other diseases, the growth of this fungus affects the immune system.
Limited saliva flow is the main culprit in dry mouth. Saliva flow is affected by cancer treatments like radiation used in the head and neck area. Other diseases like Sjögren’s syndrome can also affect the saliva flow.
Lessening of Taste
Aging does bring a lessening of taste to the senior. However, other contributors to this condition include medications as well as diseases and dentures.
Seniors: Now is the Time to Take Charge of Your Oral Health
While aging does bring risks for deteriorating oral health, there are things that you can do to take charge of it. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is a very important and basic step. Use dental floss on a daily basis. This may be a problem for some seniors, such as those with dentures or bridges. However, talk with your denturist regarding specific floss that will accommodate your situation.
A regular visit to your dentist and your denturist is extremely important. Not only will you be aware of any problems, you will also be able to receive the appropriate care. A regular cleaning cannot be underestimated. The removal of plaque is a major advantage in alleviating at least one cause of gum disease.
A dental exam for seniors will allow the dentist to address any situations you may currently have. Provide the following information to help your dentist help you:
- Last dentist visit and the reason
- Any changes in your mouth
- Any taste challenges
- Any difficulties eating or swallowing
- Any sensitive teeth or loose teeth
- Any lumps, bumps or swelling
- Any discomfort or pain
- Any bleeding
- Any sores
A oral exam by a denturist is also extremely important in maintaining your oral health care. Your dentures are important to the way you look and feel. That’s why it’s important to maintain dentures and ensure they perform at their optimum so you can perform at your best.
A regular check-up with your Denturist is the most effective way for you and your dentures to get the care and attention you both deserve.
TISSUES AND BONE
Over time, your mouth goes through considerable changes. Tissue shrinkage and loss of underlying bone (resorption) on which your dentures rest will occur. Since your dentures do not change, they may no longer fit like they once did.
Having an annual oral exam may prevent or help detect the existence of oral cancer or other abnormal conditions.
MEDICAL OR DENTAL HISTORY
Updating both medical and dental history is an important step toward quality denture treatment.
FIT AND BITE OF YOUR EXISTING DENTURE
Worn out dentures can cause improper fit and bite which can lead to other problems. They can also cause changes in your ability to bite, your speech and your appearance.
THE INTEGRITY OF YOUR DENTURES
Your Denturist will check for cracks, chips, scratches and worn or loose teeth.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING YOUR VISIT
- update your dental and medical history
- intra-oral examination
- check the integrity of your denture
- check the esthetics, stability and the bite
- discuss options available to you based on your needs
- review of oral hygiene procedures and denture care
- cleaning and polishing of your dentures, if required
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