It’s no secret that getting older isn’t for the faint of heart. And we all expect that as we age, things will start changing.
At TrueCare Dentistry, we see those changes up close and personal when we peek inside our patients’ mouths. And we know firsthand that someone’s oral health can really take a dive if they’re not careful to stay on top of it.
Oral health — or lack thereof — is more impactful that many realize, and it’s especially important for seniors.
“Older adults need to be especially concerned about their oral health due to its relationship with systemic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, and the effect of some medications on the oral cavity.”
– Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Office of Oral Health
Many seniors are used to brushing and flossing every day, and it’s important to keep those habits up as long as possible. As health conditions change with age, strength and mobility may decline and make it trickier for older adults to continue their normal routines. Getting to regular dental checkups may also be harder.
In spite of the challenges, it’s more important than ever for seniors to take care of their teeth because how healthy their teeth and mouth are says a whole lot about their overall health and well-being.
Connecting Oral Health and Overall Health
So what exactly does the condition of someone’s mouth say about their health?
- It’s time to start eating better. Every day is a good day for healthy eating, but if cavities are sneaking up on you or you’re starting to notice other mouth problems coming up more frequently, think about the food you’re eating.
Do you munch on a lot of sugary snacks? Instead, try switching to healthier snacks like cheese or plain yogurt. If you can’t do dairy, up your leafy greens. The American Dental Association says these calcium-rich foods are some of the best for our teeth. Fruits and vegetables are right there with them, protecting our teeth when we eat plenty of our favorites from the produce aisle.
- Watch out for heart trouble if you’re struggling with gum disease (also known as periodontal disease). The American Dental Association and American Heart Association have acknowledged the relationship between gum disease and heart disease. Gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease because inflammation in the gums and bacteria may eventually lead to narrowing of important arteries.
- On a lot of medications? The dry mouth they cause can lead to tooth decay and other problems. While seniors need to take various medications to treat recurring health issues, the side effects of those treatments can create issues of their own. And dry mouth is one of them.
Saliva seems so inconspicuous, but it works quietly to wash away acid and food from our teeth. Without a healthy dose of saliva in our mouths, we have a bigger risk for cavities and infections.
- Decaying teeth could contribute to strokes. Seniors with cavities and other dental decay may have a higher risk for strokes. The American Heart Association reported research that highlights connections between tooth decay and brain bleeds in stroke victims.
While more research on the topic is needed, what we can say without a doubt is that bacterial infection in someone’s gums puts their hearts and brains at risk.
Even as it gets more difficult for seniors to take care of their teeth, it becomes more important than ever for them to do so. Maintaining dental health is one of the best proactive steps seniors can take to take care of themselves!
Tips for Seniors to Maintain Good Dental Health
Wondering how to keep your mouth and teeth strong and healthy? Try these tips!
#1 – Eat a healthy diet.
#2 – Brush regularly.
#3 – Floss regularly.
#4 – Keep your regular dental appointments.
#5 – Communicate with your dentist about any changes you see.
Taking care of your teeth can seem intimidating when you’re an older adult, but it doesn’t have to be. Do your part and let your dentist and hygienist do theirs.
As you step into your senior years, let the experienced team at TrueCare Dentistry help you maintain your dental health and prevent disease.
Exceptional Is Not Uncommon
At TrueCare Dentistry, you will experience exceptional dental care that is focused on maximum patient comfort. We offer the best chair-side manner from check-in to check-out. Contact us for an appointment or to learn more: 919.859.1330