There’s an old saying that the eyes are the window to the soul. That may be true, but the latest dental research shows that the mouth can also be a window into a person’s overall health.
As we age, taking care of our health means not only keeping an eye on our nutritional intake and physical capabilities, but also on our teeth and gums. Since we are living longer, and more and more of us are keeping our teeth, the practice of good dental health is important to even more mature folks as time goes by.
Senior dental problems are common, from dry mouth to periodontal disease. Because oral health directly impacts the health of the rest of the body, these problems need to be taken seriously and addressed by you and your Mernda dentist.
Taking care of elderly teeth and gums is just as important as heart or digestive health.
Issues Seniors May Face
- Gingivitis. Gingivitis is one of the first stages of gum disease. Gingivitis is caused by bacteria found in plaque. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen gums and even bleeding when you brush.
- Advanced Gum (periodontal) disease. An infection of the gum tissue, caused by bacteria that supports the teeth. This is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
- Periodontitis. Periodontitis, a very severe form of gum disease, affects more than half of people between 65 and 74 years of age. Untreated, periodontitis can lead to the death of the bone supporting the teeth and even lead to tooth loss.
- Root decay. Receding gums exposed the root surfaces of teeth. These surfaces are softer and more porous than the upper segments of teeth and therefore they are more susceptible to decay than the rest of the tooth.
- Dry mouth. As saliva plays a major role in preventing tooth decay by rinsing away bacteria and food particles and by neutralizing harmful acids, you should talk to your dentist about ways to treat dry mouth. Very often it is the result of medication.
- Difficulty brushing and flossing. If you have arthritis or any other mobility/coordination issues, you may find it difficult to brush and floss.
- Limited dentist access. Difficulty accessing dental services because of transportation, medical conditions or limited mobility. The risk of this increases with age.
- Oral cancer. Oral cancer most often occurs in people over 40 years of age, and is 7 times more common among adults above the age of 65. See a dentist immediately if you notice any unusual patches on your gums, tongue or other oral tissues, and watch for sores that fail to heal within two weeks.
Oral health reflects overall health
Another reason to visit the dentist as we age, is that your dentist is often your first line of health defense.
Research shows that more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases have oral manifestations, including swollen gums, mouth ulcers, dry mouth and excessive gum problems. Some of these diseases include:
- Oral cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
Older patients are especially vulnerable to developing diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease, the risks of which increase with age. Researchers believe that symptoms of these conditions can manifest in the mouth, making dentists key in diagnosing the diseases. For example:
- Bad breath and bleeding gums could be indicators of diabetes.
- Dental x-rays can show the first stages of bone loss.
- A sore and painful jaw could foreshadow an oncoming heart attack.
Keeping Your Teeth Healthy as You Age
Regular dental checkups can help you avoid potential dental problems. Professional cleanings are needed to remove the plaque and tartar from your teeth that can lead to periodontal disease.
At home, brush twice a day with a soft brush. If arthritis limits your ability to do this, ask your dentist about special dental aids that make brushing easier, including the possibility of an electric toothbrush. Interdental cleaners and floss holders are also available if you have difficulty flossing between each tooth every day.
Consider using specialized products that are focused on the conditions you’re at higher risk for. Fluoride toothpaste can help strengthen your tooth enamel, and fluoride rinses and gels can also help prevent root decay.
Visiting your United Smiles dentist frequently will also help protect you from oral diseases, tooth loss, and help keep any dental work (caps, bridges, dentures, etc.) in tip top shape!
Keep Your Smile Healthy and Attractive with United Smiles in Mernda
United Smiles is conveniently located in the heart of Mernda Village, serving patients from all Melbourne areas. Our office has ample parking at the rear of the building. Wheelchair access is also available at the front of the building.
Our Special Offers for New Senior Patients
- NO GAP on Dental Checkup And Clean for Medibank Private, HCF and CBHS
- FREE Dental Implants Consultation