Seniors have many unique oral health issues. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults over 65. Problems chewing and digesting food can also lead to poor nutrition, which may make the senior's health even worse. If you've taken good care of your teeth all along, chances are you've got a great start as you head into retirement. But aging can creep up on you and lead to many serious dental health issues.
If your hands stiffen from arthritis, you may find it hard to continue brushing and flossing daily, setting the stage for gum disease, infection and possible tooth loss. If you've stopped driving you may not be getting to the dentist on a regular basis, which would help prevent these issues from becoming major problems. Women who are dealing with the debilitating effects of osteoporosis may find that they are at an increased risk of oral disease as well.
Many seniors are dealing with the chronic condition of diabetes and need to keep their risk of infection low. For some seniors, the long-term effects of smoking or tobacco use have caught up and led to oral cancer. Seniors with other types of cancer who are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy may find that these treatments can also affect their oral health. Certain types of medication may lead to dry mouth, which can be resolved by sucking on sugarless candy.
Many seniors eventually begin to experience tooth loss. If this happens, you may need to find a prosthodontist who can fit you with comfortable bridges and dentures so you can continue eating properly and maintain the bone structure in your jaw. If you already have dental appliances, continue seeing the prosthodontist as your mouth may be changing and your dentures or bridges may need to be adjusted.
Older people who have health problems and difficulty moving may not be eating as well as they should, especially those who live alone and are no longer capable of cooking nutritious meals. Ask your dental professional for tips to help your loved ones continue eating healthy.
ChooseYourDentist.com is your go-to source for dental information and dental education. If you are concerned about senior oral health issues, use our dental profiles to help find a family dentist or prosthodontist who can help because ChooseYourDentist.com is "where patients and dentists meet."