The Greatest Generation is fading out and the Baby Boomer generation is moving into their golden years. Some of these individuals are in living situations where they are receiving assistance with day-to-day activities. Some of these situations take care to ensure that their charges have health and dental needs met. Others may or may not. Dental care for the elderly is just as important as any other age.
Tooth Loss in the Elderly
Throughout an individual’s life, the main threat to tooth loss is dental decay that goes neglected. In the later stages of life, it is not decay that contributes most to tooth loss but rather, periodontal disease. In the elderly, the complications of advanced gum disease lead to bone loss, which in turn leads to instability of the teeth in their sockets. Eventually, they fall out.
According to some estimates, over a quarter of the senior population over age 64 have no remaining teeth. Those who are older, women and current smokers are among those who are more prone to have fewer teeth.
Consequences of Poor Oral Hygiene in the Elderly
Aging can also reduce the production of saliva, as can certain medications. Dry mouth exacerbates dental problems in that the bacteria normally washed away by moisture in the mouth accumulates, making teeth and gums more vulnerable to disease.
Edentulous patients – those who have no teeth at all – are more likely to experience chronic kidney disease. Too few teeth, or no teeth at all, make eating healthy foods difficult, if not impossible. Many assisted living establishments, but not all, will help manage the healthcare of their residents. Some residents may need assistance to maintain their oral health.
Preventing Tooth Loss
Many believe the myth that tooth loss is a normal part of aging. In actuality, it is gum disease that is the culprit. Brushing and flossing daily and keeping up with regular dental checkups can eliminate this problem. In recent years, tooth loss due to gum disease in the elderly has decreased somewhat; however, it is still an issue that needs attention.
Elderly individuals who are experiencing cognitive decline may be especially vulnerable to the ravages of gum disease. These individuals may have trouble remembering to practice good oral hygiene, or they may not be physically able to manage brushing and flossing of their teeth. In these situations, help is required to ensure their teeth and gums remain in a healthy state.
Jefferson Dental Care is committed to helping patients of all ages acquire and maintain optimal oral health. If you or your elderly loved one is in need of dental care, contact us to schedule an appointment today.
Posted on behalf of Jefferson Dental Care