Common Dental Problems in Seniors

In this blog, we will look at common dental problems your older loved one might be experiencing, and some ways you can help them keep their oral health as good as possible.
Common Dental Problems in Seniors

For seniors, maintaining dental health is critical to their overall well-being. In this blog, we will look at common dental problems your older loved one might be experiencing, and some ways you can help them keep their oral health as good as possible.

How Dental Health Affects Overall Well Being in Seniors

Practicing good oral health can play a key role in helping seniors to prevent, or lessen the effects of other serious health conditions.

Research has shown that older people with gingivitis (gum inflammation) are at a greater risk of having a stroke, or developing heart disease, lung disease or blood vessel blockage. According to JAMDA (The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Medicine), seniors who are missing more than one tooth face a 50% greater risk of developing cognitive impairment.

What are the Most Common Dental Issues for Seniors?

Like all people, seniors can experience a wide variety of dental problems, but some of the most common issues include:

Tooth Loss

13% of the senior population, 65 or older in the U.S. have lost all their teeth. By the time people turn 75, that figure doubles to 26%. One of the biggest issues with tooth loss is that people’s nutritional intake can suffer. Seniors with dental problems tend to eat soft, or processed food instead of more healthy choices like fresh fruits and vegetables.

Tooth Decay

For a variety of reasons, some seniors cannot care for their teeth as they had in years past. This can often lead to tooth decay, and cavities. According to the CDC, about 96% of people over the age of 65 have at least one cavity. In addition, about 20% of those seniors also have untreated tooth decay.

Gum Disease

Gum disease, also known as Periodontitis, is one of the most common conditions in seniors. It is an infection that inflames and harms the soft tissue around teeth, which can lead to pain and loss. People with serious illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) have an increased chance of developing gum disease.

Oral Cancer

Senior populations are the most susceptible to oral and pharyngeal cancers. The average age to be diagnosed with these conditions is 62 years old. One reason for this is that older generations smoked more, which led to cancer later in life.

4 Great Ways Seniors Can Optimize their Oral Health

Striving for good oral hygiene is not difficult, or expensive. It simply takes dedication to performing a few simple tasks each day. Here are four important things you can do to help your older loved one optimize their dental health.

Brushing & Flossing

Brushing and flossing can make a huge positive impact on a senior’s oral health. Using a good quality toothbrush helps remove plaque, which causes tooth decay and gum disease. Seniors should brush their teeth at least twice a day, upon waking, and going to sleep at night. Regular flossing helps keep the areas between the teeth clean, which will lead to healthier gums and roots.

Rinse with Mouthwash Daily

There are many types of mouthwash products on the market today, but the best kind to promote oral health is antiseptic mouthwash. Rinsing for 30 seconds, twice a day will help kill 99% of the bacteria that causes plaque buildup, bad breath, and gingivitis.

Look for Changes in the Mouth

Help your loved one look for any changes on their tongue, or in the mouth. Things to look for include:

  • A spot or sore in the mouth.
  • Sudden difficulty chewing or swallowing.
  • Numbness in the tongue or jaw.
  • Unexplained ear pain.

Should your loved one experience any of these symptoms, be sure to have them visit a dentist as soon as possible.

Visit the Dentist

Seniors who are able should see their dentist at least twice a year for an examination and cleaning. A dental hygienist can clean teeth more thoroughly than can be done at home. A full examination can look for tooth decay or cavities.

Frontier Senior Living is Here to Help

Practicing good oral hygiene is not only good for your older loved one’s teeth, but also their overall health.

The caring and compassionate staff at Frontier Senior Living helps our residents stay as healthy as possible in all aspects of their lives. If you would like to learn more about our services, we cordially invite you to visit one of our beautiful communities, take a tour and speak with our friendly staff.

Find a community near you
that perfectly fits your needs.

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