In the older adult, problems arising from poor dental hygiene and tooth decay is by far the most common source of ill health. Not surprisingly, adults over 65 who still have remaining natural teeth experience more tooth decay than for any other age group. And thus regular visits for the old adult to a dentist are highly recommended.
Older people produce much less natural saliva, which acts as a mouth cleanser, and their gums tend to shrink with aging, so, the teeth become more susceptible to decay and infection. The older adult may have severe difficulty with the acts of brushing and flossing due to a handicap in hand or arm movement, even perhaps from having poor vision. Such problems can lead to poor nutrition and are often neglected by seniors.
Dental Problems for Seniors
Tooth Decay. Due to the recession of the gums, teeth roots become exposed where cavities can appear, which lead to infection and tooth breaking.
Diseases of the Gums. Such diseases are usually caused by plaque growth on the teeth, and the associated bacteria lead to acid in the mouth, hence gum diseases. Regular brushing and flossing is recommended for plaque removal. If the person is impaired at all then maybe an ‘Electric Toothbrush’ will be beneficial.
Badly Fitting Dentures. Badly fitting dentures may have a tendency to drop when the person is speaking, also there may be problems with chewing causing the old person to neglect her/his eating habits and lead to poor nutrition intake
Dry Mouth Condition. The anti bacterial, naturally produced, mouth saliva is often reduced in the elderly, which in turn can lead to tooth decay. If excessive dry mouth persists then the dentist or a doctor should be consulted, since it may be indicative of other illnesses.
Oral Cancer. Occasionally seniors may observe an incidence of red or white spots and sores in the mouth, along with internal bleeding of the mouth. If such signs do not disappear within a short period, a dentist or physician should be visited, as these symptoms could be a warning of the onset of oral cancer.
Most dental problems for seniors are both preventable or treatable, and if caught in the early stages are relatively inexpensive to remedy.