Daily hygiene routines such as flossing and brushing may become more difficult with arthritic hands or strained eyesight. However, there are multiple reasons to treat oral health as a priority. If you have traded your natural pearly whites for dentures, you will still want to read about the impacts of poor dental hygiene.
Dental Health Ties to Total Body
Poor dental maintenance not only affects your teeth and gums but the entire body. Here are the greatest concerns of neglecting oral health:
- Gum Disease –The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report70% of gum disease diagnoses belong to those 65 years and older. This is dangerous news for Seniors as gum disease is linked to a host of health problems, including heart disease and stroke.
- Heart Disease – The American Academy of Periodontology has found Seniors with periodontal disease (severe gum disease) are twice as likely to develop coronary or heart disease. Heart attacks, strokes, and various heart-related conditions could be prevented by being serious about establishing a daily dental routine.
- Pneumonia – Poor oral health has been linked to pneumonia in Seniors. When we breathe, harmful bacteria may enter the lungs. If the mouth is also filled with bacteria the risk for pneumonia is increased, A clean mouth helps to prevent the development of pneumonia or respiratory disease.
- Diabetes – Gum infection and diabetes go hand-in-hand. Periodontal disease hinders the body’s ability to use insulin. High blood sugar may lead to gum infection. When teeth and gums are neglected.
- Dry Mouth – A side-effect of some medications Seniors are prescribed or treatments for cancer or other diagnoses may cause dry mouth. Saliva is a body’s natural response to clearing food and drinks from a mouth. Without saliva plaque, cavities, and bacteria develop more frequently. Aspiration pneumonia may also be triggered when the lack of saliva makes it difficult to swallow.
- Denture-Induced Stomatitis – Seniors who have lost their natural teeth realize oral care is still important. A build-up of the fungus Candida albicans, poorly fitted dentures, and poor dental hygiene will cause inflammation in gum tissue and may result in denture-induced stomatitis. This is often painful and could last as long as the condition is unchecked.
Dental Health Recommendations
Daily dental maintenance matters. Here are a few expert tips provided by the American Dental Association.
- Use an electric toothbrush – While more expensive than their manual counterparts, electric toothbrushes are more effective and often better for Seniors. They are easier used by arthritic hands and are excellent choices to improve gum health.
- Brush after every meal – Research has shown brushing our teeth after every meal is more effective in preventing plaque buildup and has the best overall effect on oral health.
- Floss daily – Flossing every day is important for removing food debris caught between teeth. If hand dexterity is an issue, try an alternative method such as floss-picks or water-based flossers.
- Mouthwash – Similar to floss, mouthwash helps remove food particles from spaces between the teeth. Mouthwashes sanitize and kill bacteria causing tooth decay and gingivitis. If you have symptoms of dry mouth avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol. These will further dry out tissues.
- Clean dentures daily – Dentures need to be sanitized every day. Use a cleanser specially formulated to keep them sparkling and free of bacteria. Sleep without your dentures in to give them plenty of time to be properly cleaned and allow natural stimulation of the tissue under them.
- Schedule regular checkups – A routine checkup every six to twelve months by a professional dentist is recommended. A regular exam lowers the risk of root decay, cavities, and gum disease. Even patients with full dentures should be seen on a regular basis. This allows the dentist to not only check the fit of the dentures but also screen for oral cancer.
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