Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Oral Health: How Is It Affected by the Aging Process?

As the body gets older it experiences many changes, particularly in its ability to ward off disease and regenerate as it used to. One of the many impacts that aging has on the body is related to oral health, as dental care for elderly individuals is quite different from that required by younger populations. Elder care professionals explain that there are many different dental problems that seniors might encounter while they age. To help you to care for elderly loved ones, here are a few of the oral health problems that are common among seniors, per an article published by WebMD.com.1
  • Dark teeth: This issue is often caused by changes in the tissue that lies beneath the enamel of the teeth. Additionally, the accumulation of years of consuming beverages and foods that can cause stains can contribute to a darker color of the teeth. 
  • Less sensitivity to taste: Sensory loss is naturally caused by the aging process; however, dentures, certain diseases, and even specific medications may make the mouth numb to flavor. 
  • Gum disease: Plaque, irregular brushing or flossing, the use of tobacco, a poor diet, certain illnesses, and even improperly fitted dentures and bridges can all lead to gum disease. 
  • Uneven jawbone: This can be caused by the loss of teeth. 
  • Thrush: A fungal infection, this is a condition that can be sparked by diseases or medications that impact the immune system. 
  • Dry mouth: Cancer treatments and certain diseases and medications can slow the production of saliva, causing this uncomfortable condition. 
  • Root decay: If the roots of teeth are exposed they can be affected by acids, leading to their deterioration. 
  • Tooth loss: While gum disease is the number one reason for tooth loss, there are other issues that seniors face that may contribute to this problem. 
  • Stomatitis: This inflammation can be caused by poor dental hygiene, improperly fitting dentures, or thrush. 

To help your senior avoid as many of these conditions as possible, encourage a healthy oral care plan that includes brushing and flossing on a daily basis. Additionally, make sure that your senior has regularly scheduled dental appointments to monitor their oral health.

1 http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-care-seniors

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