Dental Care for Seniors

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Unique Concerns: Senior Dental Care

Advancing age can increase the risk of developing oral health problems.

Oral health problems that can develop with age include:

  • Dry mouth which is caused by a reduced flow of saliva and can develop as a result of medications, as a side effect of cancer treatments for the head and neck, or due to certain diseases including Sjögren’s syndrome.
  • Changes to taste can result due to medications or disease, and wearing dentures can also cover up taste buds in the upper palate.
  • Gum disease can often be a problem for seniors and can be made worse through smoking or through having certain conditions such as diabetes, anemia, or cancer.
  • Decaying tooth roots are more likely due to gum recession.
  • Teeth become darker with age, and a lifetime of consuming highly colored foods and drinks can take its toll.
  • Stomatitis can be caused by ill-fitting dentures or poor oral hygiene, allowing the fungus Candida albicans to build up in the mouth.
  • Thrush is also more likely to develop due to drugs for diseases that impair the immune system and which may allow an overgrowth of Candida albicans.
  • Changes to the way the teeth met together. Tooth loss can affect your remaining teeth. They can move and shift position, or it may be due to problems with your jaw joints (temporomandibular joints). Problems with this joint can mean it is painful to move your jaw, and the joints may click or pop when moved.

Dental care can help mitigate and treat some of these effects, and we can suggest ways to help improve oral health at home. Simple changes such as switching from a manual toothbrush to an electric toothbrush can be helpful for anyone with limited dexterity.

If you have trouble flossing, there are alternatives such as water flossers or interdental brushes that can be attached to long handles.

Antibacterial mouthwash can help reduce bacteria in the mouth. If prescription medications are causing your oral health problems, then it might be that your doctor can prescribe something slightly different.

Artificial saliva can help reduce the effects of dry mouth

Regular professional dental care will help keep your teeth and gums healthy for longer and will help to eliminate or reduce the effects of aging on oral health.

 

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