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Oral Health Care for Seniors

Written by Dan Abril.

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Flickr/moodboardphotography

Bad oral health care can lead to problems regardless of age. However, seniors are more at risk and may need to pay extra care and attention.  Some issues that may arise include darkened teeth, dry mouth, thrush, gum disease, and tooth loss. Overall health conditions will also greatly impact an older adult’s oral health.

For seniors, one significant change is the noticeable sensitivity to hot and cold beverages. As gums recede with age, areas of the teeth that are not protected by enamel are exposed thus leading to sensitivity. Dry mouths are another concern. Causes may be due to medication or other health issues but the longer it is left untreated, the more the mouth becomes vulnerable to tooth decay.As we already know, saliva protects teeth by neutralizing acids/plaque.

However, a major consideration for seniors is their underlying health problems. Years of smoking, terrible oral health care, and bad diet can lead to cancer, diabetes, and heart complications. The correlation may not be so obvious at first but scientists have concluded that as is the case with rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease, bacteria that cause periodontal disease can travel the bloodstream and further complicate the existing health condition.  Contraindications should also be taken into account when it comes to treatment.

Tips for Seniors

The following pointers should be observed by anyone regardless of age but seniors should at least:

a.    Eat healthy. Reduce sugar intake and consume adequate amounts of vegetables.

b.    Quit smoking. Smoking is the leading cause of oral and throat cancer. It also increases chancs of developing gum disease.

c.    Brush twice a day. Protect your teeth and scrub away the food residue. This also holds true for dentures.

d.    Floss once a day. Supplement brushing with flossing.

e.    Visit the dentist regularly. Remember that early detection is better than treatments.

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Sources:
http://www.pinedaledental.com/blog/article/dry_mouth_what_effects_does_it_have_on_your_teeth
http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-care-seniors
http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-at-Any-Age/Seniors/Senior-Maintenance-and-Care/article/Oral-Health-for-Seniors.cvsp