Dental Care For The Elderly
Dental care for the elderly is especially important because there are a whole host of problems that makes it essential for seniors.
Due to the changes that occur as you age, problems can occur that require a little different approach than when you were in your 20s and 30s.
The majority of these problems can be handled just by keeping dental appointments so that the dentist is aware of the changes and any problems that may occur.
Changes in our Mouth
As you age our tissues become less flexible. The muscles become softer and if you are on certain medications you may not create as much saliva as normal. Medications can cause your mouth to be dry most of the time. This can also cause tooth decay to increase.
The level of the gums is where tooth decay seems to start as you age. Often leaving the root of the tooth exposed, this expedites decay and fillings often do not work as they will develop decay around them as well.
Gums can also shrink due to a variety of reasons, such as sensitivity to hot or cold beverages. This is why it is so extremely important to keep to a regular schedule of visiting your dentist, especially as you get older. Often problems can be found before they get too far along, which is good news for your teeth.
As you get older the pulp inside your teeth becomes smaller. This is a normal process but it can cause the teeth to have less fluid and therefore they become brittle.
The lack of blood vessels and nerve tissue can result in teeth breaking easily. A tooth fracture can occur and you may not even know it, because it does not hurt like a fracture elsewhere on the body.
Dental Care for the Elderly and Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is a primary reason that people lose their teeth and this is more of a concern as you get a bit older. Decaying teeth can be the result of plaque build up around the gums. This is often not noticed until it is further along because quite often it does not hurt, so you don't suspect a problem.
The symptoms vary but bleeding gums and loose teeth are a couple. Bacteria build-up can cause the tooth to decay and crumble. Periodontal disease can cause many other problems if left untreated.
Since it is easy for it to get a head start on destroying your teeth without proper dental care, it can actually start to affect certain organs within the body, such as the heart. This is another excellent reason for regular trips to the dentist as first-line dental care for the elderly.
Dental Care for the Elderly - Other Problems
Sometimes these problems are due to loss of dexterity as you get older. It is not always as easy to clean your teeth if your hands are stiff or joints are swollen. This makes it difficult to brush them in the manner in which you did when you were younger.
When you get older, your eyesight will likely not be as keen. This makes brushing your teeth more difficult. Many times magnification mirrors are used to allow the person to see more clearly and of course, a bright light always helps.
A proper diet is another thing that helps to keep teeth healthy and sad as it may be, often the elderly do not eat balanced meals. This can be a contributing factor to the breakdown of the health of the gums and teeth.
In addition, sweets and acids should be limited as they are known to cause tooth decay.
Dental Care for the Elderly - Dentures
When it comes to dental care for seniors, sometimes dentures are needed to replace teeth that have outlived their usefulness. The maintenance of dentures is important as well to prevent problems.
In addition, they need to be checked regularly to ensure they still fit as they should. If your gums are shrinking even a little, adjustments have to be made.
If dentures are not comfortable or do not have enough support, it will hurt when you try to eat. It can also keep you from being able to properly chew your food.
The instance of dentures that do not fit properly is far higher than you would suspect. This is another reason you should see your dentist on a regular basis.
The best dental care for the elderly is to take care of them thoroughly. Proper cleaning, a good diet and flossing will do your teeth a world of good.
Dental check-ups on a regular basis will be the ultimate way you can be sure your teeth are in the best shape possible after making sure you are having one of the better dental plans for seniors.
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