Dental Health: Key to Wellness for Seniors
If you are over 65 and still have your teeth, congratulations! Birthdays come and go, but you don’t want your teeth to. The number of people who keep their teeth for a lifetime has dramatically increased in the last decade due to better nutrition and improved dental hygiene and care.
The Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics reports that by the year 2030, the number of U.S. adults 65 or older will reach 72 million or 20% of the total population—double the number in the year 2000. If you are part of the older generation or you are a caretaker for an aging parent, be advised. Dental health is one of the keys to wellness for seniors.
Whether you are healthy and active or struggling when it comes to mobility, golden agers need to be prepared for new challenges when it comes to teeth and gums. Dry mouth, cavities, periodontitis and oral cancer pose greater threats to senior health than at any other time of life.
Consequences of Poor Dental Hygiene
Poor dental hygiene can cause overall health to decline. Infection, heart and respiratory disease, and diabetes can be caused or exacerbated if the teeth and gums are ignored. The simple fact is if the teeth and gums are not functional, good nutrition is not possible; eating well is essential to maintain good health. Neglecting the teeth and gums can cause life threatening conditions; so as we age, it is more important than ever to have regular dental check-ups.
There are several factors that might explain the increase of dental problems experienced by the elderly:
• Prescription or over-the-counter medications can cause side-effects such as dry mouth
• Hypertension, diabetes, and other chronic conditions affect major body systems which can lead to poor overall health
• Rheumatoid arthritis or other crippling conditions can affect mobility of the hand and arm which can hamper a person’s ability to brush and floss
• Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other cognitive conditions create memory issues that put seniors in long-term care facilities at risk when it comes to dental self-care
Vigilance is Required
In order to maintain good overall health, seniors and their caretakers must be vigilant about oral health. It may be necessary to increase the number of cleanings per year in order to catch potential problems before they complicate medical issues. It’s important that seniors have access to good dental health care: restorative and preventative.
Doctors T. Blake Maddox, Adam B. Graham, and Jing Li, as family dentistry experts, serve clients of all ages. Since we follow our patients closely, we can provide not only good dental hygiene services but consultations and referrals as well. If you are a caretaker of a family member or a senior who needs an experienced, trustworthy dentist, give us a call to set up an appointment. You know you are in good hands with Alabama Family Dentistry.