Oral health is an important and often overlooked component of an older person’s general health and well-being. Todd A. Franklin knows that for many of our older patients, oral health can become an issue when the conditions of aging make it difficult to brush or floss their teeth as effectively as they once did.
Below are 4 common oral health challenges that our older patients encounter:
It’s not just children who get tooth decay—oral decay is a common disease in people 65 and older. Research from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research shows that 92% of seniors 65 and older have had cavities in their permanent teeth. The risk for tooth decay increases because many older adults don’t go to the dentist as often as they used to. As a result, cavities go undetected and untreated for longer than they should.
Gum disease, missing teeth, infection, cavities, or poorly fitting dentures – all can cause difficulty eating and can force seniors to adjust the quality, consistency, and balance of their diet.
The Oral Cancer Foundation estimate that 20% of elderly people suffer from xerostomia (dry mouth), which means the reduced flow of saliva (saliva plays a crucial role in preventing tooth decay). Common medications that may cause dry mouth are blood pressure medications, decongestants, antihistamines, muscle relaxants, pain pills, incontinence medications, and antidepressants.
Periodontitis (gum disease) is an infection of the gums and surrounding tissues that hold teeth in place. While gum disease affects people of all ages, it typically becomes worse as people age. In its early stages, gum disease is painless, and most people have no idea that they have it. In more advanced cases, however, gum disease can cause sore gums and pain when chewing.
Scheduling regular appointments at Todd A. Franklin, DDS is the key to addressing the above issues – our dental care professionals can provide a combination of education, proactive care, and management to help reduce or eliminate these conditions.