People of advanced age may be more prone to certain health issues, including oral conditions. Here are a few oral health problems that are sometimes experienced by seniors.
Gum disease can affect a person of any age. However, the condition is often more prevalent and serious among seniors. If left unchecked, gum disease may lead to bone and tooth loss.
Gum disease occurs as the gingival tissues become inflamed. The inflammation, which stems from the exposure of the sensitive tissues to irritating oral acids, can progress quickly, especially when paired with other conditions that may affect seniors, such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, or improperly fitted dentures.
If signs of early gum disease, such as gingival bleeding, swelling, or pain, occur, the condition may be reversed by exercising more thorough oral hygiene. However, when gum disease becomes severe, professional intervention may be needed. The dentist may need to perform root planing and scaling procedures to clear the buildup of plaque and tartar from below the gum line. Additional gum reconstruction surgeries may also be required, depending on the degree of deterioration that the condition has caused.
Dental Root Decay
Decay is caused as the tooth material becomes demineralized by bacterial acids. In young people, decay occurs primarily in the crowns of the teeth. However, in seniors, decay may also take place in the dental roots.
The roots of the teeth become exposed as the gums naturally recede over time. Thus, the roots can be damaged by the acids within the oral cavity.
To avoid root decay, seniors should brush and floss thoroughly. Additionally, they should rinse with an antimicrobial mouthwash to reduce the amount of acid released by oral microbes.
Dry mouth occurs when there is a reduction in the amount of saliva that is produced. Since saliva helps clean the mouth and dilute oral acids, a decrease in salivary flow can increase the likelihood of tooth decay and gum disease.
Dry mouth can occur naturally, or it can be caused as a side effect of medications. It develops frequently in seniors, since older people may take more medicines.
To help lessen the effects of dry mouth, seniors should stay hydrated. Additionally, a dentist can prescribe oral washes to relieve the symptoms of the condition.
If you are a senior and would like to learn more the proper care of your mouth, contact the office of a professional dentist like Hayden Dental to schedule an appointment.