Dental health is critical regardless of your age, and this includes people who fall into the category of senior citizens. As we get older, keeping up with oral hygiene can become a bit more challenging due to conditions like arthritis making flossing and brushing difficult, as well as a variety of cognitive issues that can lead to forgetfulness. That being said, it’s critical to make your oral health a priority because as we get older, dental issues can begin to have more of a negative impact on our overall health. Here’s a quick look at a few examples of that.
If you didn’t wear clear braces when you were younger, or you’ve lost a tooth or two and haven’t had them repaired with implants, your jawbone can actually begin to waste away. This can lead to the teeth surrounding open places to shift into those spots. This then leads to a jawbone that’s uneven, and can even cause appearance concerns and bite issues.
It’s important to improve dental health when at all possible because the bacteria that are inherent with gum disease can actually migrate to your lungs and create havoc within the respiratory system. This can cause any pre-existing respiratory issues to get worse or even lead to infections in the lungs and severe pneumonia. This is important because much of the time, these types of issues are more difficult for older people to recover from than for younger people.
What do you think heart disease has to do with dental care? By the age of 65, millions of people in the US are suffering from gum disease. This happens when the tissues in the gums get infected, typically following a buildup of a substance known as plaque on the teeth and gums. People suffering from gum disease are significantly more likely to have to deal with heart disease, and it can even worsen heart disease already in existence while also increasing the risk of the development of clogged arteries.
Gum disease that’s advanced is known as periodontitis, and this can hamper the ability of the body to use insulin, and this is incredibly perilous for those suffering from diabetes. On top of that, blood sugar levels that are high can lead to infections in the gums, which creates a vicious cycle where gum disease leads to even more gum disease.
Preventative Oral Care
In spite of the serious complications to your health that can be the result of letting your dental hygiene slide, keeping up with your oral hygiene doesn’t necessarily need to be complicated. There are a few basic recommendations that can help. One of the easiest is to simply brush your teeth a minimum of two times each day using toothpaste that contains fluoride and a toothbrush that has soft bristles. If arthritis makes this difficult, try using an electric toothbrush. You should also floss on a daily basis or use one of the interdental brushes on the market to get in between your teeth. A Waterpik flosser is also recommended.
If you have any sort of dentures – full or partial – make sure you remove them each night to clean them. Drink water that’s fluoridated and eat a diet that’s well-balanced. Foods that are high in fiber and dairy products are both good for your teeth and gums. Try to avoid candy and sugary drinks. Quit smoking if you smoke.
Finally, a bit of common sense. Even for those with full dentures, it’s imperative to visit your dentist on a regular basis for both exams and cleanings.