Dental Health for Seniors

May is Dental Care Awareness Month, and we want to shed some light on common dental health issues seniors experience and oral health symptoms you really don’t want to ignore! You may not know this, but your oral health can actually affect other parts of your body. This happens when the bacteria in your mouth multiplies and enters your bloodstream. Gum disease alone has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, respiratory ailments, and even Alzheimer’s disease.[1] Unfortunately, these conditions are just the tip of the iceberg. Oral health is crucial to maintain, and in this article, we’ll cover three of the most ignored oral health conditions in seniors.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can be a side effect of taking multiple prescriptions. While dry mouth is often just considered uncomfortable, it can actually make eating, swallowing, and talking very difficult. Dry mouth is caused by an underproduction of saliva, which contains minerals like calcium and phosphate that are necessary for strong teeth. Your saliva helps keep harmful germs that cause tooth decay and oral infections at bay. If you experience dry mouth often, we suggest speaking to your primary doctor and a dentist to get suggestions on combatting the problem.[2]

Sensitive Teeth

It’s normal for a person’s tooth enamel to thin as they age. However, this thinning can expose your teeth’s soft nerves, making hot and cold foods and drinks completely unbearable. Gum recession is very common in seniors, which happens when the roots of your teeth become exposed. The roots don’t have the same enamel as the rest of your teeth, and when revealed they can be very sensitive. In addition to regular checkups and cleanings, you can prevent tooth sensitivity by regularly brushing, flossing, and using special toothpaste made to alleviate the issue.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a common and mild form of gum disease that causes irritation, redness, and swelling of your gums around the base of your teeth. A lack of brushing and flossing causes this condition, and treating it often requires a professional cleaning and sometimes oral rinses. If you’ve caught gingivitis early, it can be treated fairly easily. The concern really lies in periodontal disease, which occurs if gingivitis goes untreated. It becomes a serious gum infection that can lead to tooth loss and even affect your heart and lungs. Yes, you read that right. If you already have a heart or lung condition, periodontal disease can make it worse. If you don’t have a pre-existing condition, it can increase your chances of a heart attack, stroke, or sudden vascular event. It is suspected that the “bacteria present in gum disease can travel throughout the body, triggering inflammation in the heart’s vessels and infection in heart valves.”[3] If you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s important to speak to your dentist as soon as possible. These symptoms can include red, swollen, or tender gums, bleeding when brushing, flossing, or eating, receding gums, separating teeth, and persistent bad breath.

UMC at Bristol Glen Makes Dental Health a Priority

We wouldn’t blame you if you had to get up to brush your teeth halfway through this article (we sure did). As you can see, dental and oral health is crucial for the overall well-being of seniors. At our independent living community in Sussex County, we make dental health a part of the daily routine by reminding and assisting our seniors with teeth brushing each day. Our health professionals on site are also well aware of troublesome oral health symptoms to look out for. We also provide transportation to all doctor’s appointments, making it easy for our residents to stay on top of their health. Seniors at UMC at Bristol Glen have the best of both worlds because they can enjoy a quiet country setting while still being only a 5-minute drive away from downtown Newton’s many healthcare professionals.

To learn more about our independent living services in New Jersey, please give us a call or visit our website at: https://umcommunities.org/bristolglen/

[1] https://www.guardianlife.com/oral-and-overall-health

[2] https://dentistry.uic.edu/news-stories/what-older-adults-need-to-know-about-oral-health/

[3] https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/heart-and-vascular-blog/2019/march/gum-disease-and-heart-disease

This blog was originally published at https://umcommunities.org/bristolglen/blog/dental-health-for-seniors/

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