Aging and Dental Health
People wonder why it is wise to form good dental habits when you are younger. This is because there is a misconception regarding tooth loss and decay. Despite the fact that your teeth may be at their prime when you are still young, this doesn’t mean that they are going to stay that way. Forming a good habitual dental routine could make your teeth last a lifetime. But why is this so important?
A Healthy Dental Routine
Brushing and flossing on a regular basis, however necessary, is simply not enough to protect your teeth all the way into old age. As you get older, your mouth undergoes change. You become less sensitive to cavities and other problems in your mouth. How could this be so? The nerves found in your teeth become smaller and therefore less alert to such problems. It is quite a scary thought that periodontal disease can in fact worsen someone’s chronic health conditions – for example heart disease, arthritis and diabetes. Regular dental visits are important, right into old age.
Challenges and Changes
Because your teeth change with age, some challenges may arise regarding oral health. As people age, it becomes more stressful to deal with change in circumstances, therefore it is imperative that the other family members get involved to ensure that the teeth of the elderly are cared for properly. One challenge that many older people face is that of brushing and flossing. With the large amount of people who suffer from arthritis, a simple task of holding a toothbrush becomes impossible. It is, however, much easier if you readjust the toothbrush, perhaps putting a tennis ball over the handle so that it is far easier to hold. Otherwise, there have been devices designed for this particular problem – electric toothbrushes with large handles and water flosses.
As we age, our saliva glands stop producing large amounts of saliva. And to add to that, prescribed medication can often dry out the mouth even more. The condition of ‘dry mouth’, or otherwise known as Xerostomia, can cause a lot of discomfort for the elderly. Ignorance is not bliss in this case, if you know that your elderly family member or friend is experiencing this, you should tell their dentist right away. Xerostomia can lead to tooth decay.
It’s not only problems in the mouth that can create issues. What else can cause tooth decay? Well, stomach acids can cause havoc if they end up in the mouth. And digestive problems, such as heartburn or gastric reflux, can cause the acid to move to the mouth. To prevent tooth decay and protect the teeth, the digestive problem needs to be addressed.
The bottom line? We all get old. And when we do, we seem to forget how important the basics are. One day, you want to be confident that someone will look after you. So make sure to look after those who are elderly now. Remind them to brush and floss daily, take them to the dentist regularly and look out for the warning signs of any serious problems. Getting old is an unfortunate involuntary action, but healthy dentistry is a voluntary action. Take care of your teeth, make sure that they last a lifetime!