Aging is a natural process, but that doesn’t mean we can’t grow old gracefully. Your mouth is an important window into your overall health and your dental hygiene can make or break your body’s overall health.
If you or a loved one is aging, it’s important to pay close attention to their dental hygiene and schedule regular appointments with a dentist to catch problems early.
Some common dental issues for seniors include:
- Dry mouth
- Root decay
- Gum disease
- Tooth loss
- Uneven jawbone
- Denture-induced stomatitis
While it is common to experience these things as we age, it doesn’t have to happen. Good oral hygiene can prevent most of these issues from occurring.
What most people don’t realize is that oral issues can cause diseases in other parts of the body.
Diseases Commonly Related To Oral Health
It’s often surprising to learn that certain diseases of the body are often interrelated with the person’s overall dental health.
Diseases such as:
- Liver disease
- Heart disease
- Eating disorders
- Diet deficiencies
- Some autoimmune diseases
Studies show that people with severe periodontal disease have double the risk of fatal heart disease and it can even be associated with higher risk for stroke in some cases. A tooth infection can cause bacterial endocarditis (infection of the heart’s inner lining or inner valves). Why? Because bacteria travels through the bloodstream and can lodge itself in the valves of the heart, causing damage.
Chronic infected teeth can also cause added stress and damage to the liver, ulcerative colitis, and even lupus. This is why most patients with infected teeth are advised to begin an antibiotic regimen prior to having the tooth removed or fixed. The bacteria of the infection can be dangerous to the rest of the body.
Prioritizing Your Oral Health As You Age
It’s staggering to learn how many issues could arise simply because of poor dental health. That’s why it’s so important to keep regular dental appointments and be consistent with a thorough daily care routine for your mouth.
It’s true that other ailments and effects of aging can distract us from prioritizing our dental health, but it is a very important piece of healthy aging. In fact, some diseases may even make dental hygiene difficult. For example, arthritis can make it painful to thoroughly brush twice or more per day.
In fact, some dentists recommend brushing after each meal (not just morning and night) to stay on top of your dental health. You should also talk to your dentist about special toothpastes and mouthwashes that can help prevent periodontal disease if you are at risk.
If you are fitted with dentures, you should ensure that they are fit correctly to prevent pain and eating issues. Many times, poor nutrition among seniors is caused by ill-fitting dentures. Even if your dentures fit well when they were placed, losing your natural teeth causes your jaw bone to begin to shrink away, which can lead to the jaw continually reshaping itself. It’s important to have dentures checked regularly to ensure they’re still properly fit for your mouth.
Whether you have your natural teeth or dentures, it’s important to take extra care each day to prioritize your oral health. A healthy smile is not only helpful for confidence and self-image, but it’s an indication of overall health and wellness.
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