Oral Health of Adults Over 60 – Common Oral Health Diseases and
Regardless of age, oral health is vital to overall well-being. It is integral yet commonly overlooked aspect of many elderly’s general health. Oral health education, daily oral hygiene and the ability to maintain regular professional oral health services are all very important factors that can promote oral health of adults over 60.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 25% of adults over 65 have no remaining teeth. Also, about one-third have tooth decay left untreated. Severe periodontitis (gum disease) is associated with degenerative and chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease and stroke.
Aging puts many elderly at risk for many different oral health problems such as:
1. Dry mouth – dry mouth is due to reduce flow of saliva. It may be a result of cancer treatments like radiation and other medication side effects.
2. Darkened teeth – caused by changes to dentin – the tissue under the tooth enamel. This is caused by a consuming stain-causing beverages and foods for a long time. It may also be due to the thinning of the outer enamel, which then reveals the yellower dentin.
3. Root decay – this is due to the exposure of tooth root to damaging acids. As gum tissue recedes from the tooth, the roots become exposed. Roots don’t have enamel that serves as protection. They are more susceptible to decay than the crown.
4. Periodontitis (gum disease) – gum disease is caused by plaque. This condition is made worse by use of tobacco products, food left in teeth, poor diet, ill-fitting dentures and bridges and certain diseases such as cancer, anemia and diabetes.
5. Uneven jaw bone – caused by tooth loss and not replacing it. It lets the teeth to shift into tooth gaps.
6. Reduced sense of taste – while aging can affect the sense of taste, dentures, diseases and medication can contribute to this condition.
7. Tooth Loss – one of the leading causes of tooth loss is gum disease.
8. Denture-induced stomatitis – poor dental hygiene, ill-fitting dentures or an accumulation of fungus Candida albicans, can cause this condition
Age itself is not the sole determinant of oral health. But certain medical conditions such as arthritis may make flossing or brushing teeth hard to perform. Medication may also impact oral health and can cause necessary dental treatments.
Oral health problems make it harder for older adults to eat a healthy diet. These physical factors directly affect nutrition - dry mouth, oral/mouth inflammations, untreated tooth decay, poor-fitting dentures or bridges. As such, it is important to have regular oral health care to address and prevent oral health problems.
Oral Health Care Tips for Adults Over 60
Flossing and brushing natural teeth daily is vital to keep them in optimal oral health. Older adults easily build up plaque, particularly when oral hygiene is neglected, leading to gum disease and tooth decay.
To keep your oral health in top shape, it is important, regardless of age, to:
• Floss at least once a day
• Brush at least twice using fluoride toothpaste
• Regular visit to the dentist for cleaning and oral examination
Using antibacterial mouth rise may fight bacteria that cause gum disease and plaque.