Advancing age presents unique challenges related to dental care. As a person ages, limited mobility, side effects from medications, and other medical conditions can cause oral health problems. For example, a patient with arthritis may have difficulty brushing and flossing. Complications from diabetes or other chronic illnesses can contribute to gum disease. Some of the most common oral health issues associated with senior patients include:
- Tooth loss
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease and gum recession
- Dry mouth
Oral health directly affects the health of other parts of the body, meaning it is vitally important for elderly patients to remain vigilant with their dental care. Research has shown a direct correlation between gum disease and heart disease, for example. Regular visits to your family dentist are the first line of defense against the disease and decay that could negatively impact you or your loved ones as you approach your golden years.
Likewise, missing teeth or poorly fitting dentures can lead to dangerous problems in elderly patients. Trouble chewing may cause an older person to aspirate food, or avoid eating altogether. A family dentist can address these issues, refitting dentures and providing solutions for missing, broken or loose teeth.
Advances in dental care means that people are keeping their natural teeth longer than ever. Longer life expectancies and the increased use of prescription medications is placing new stresses on aging teeth and gums. Maintaining a relationship with a qualified family dentist will help to ensure you or your older loved ones avoid some of the dental pitfalls associated with advancing age and keep a healthy smile for a lifetime.