Importance of oral health in older adults

Elderwerks Educational Services - Importance of oral health in older adults

From children to older adults, oral health is important to maintain through all stages of life. Individuals in the latter category, however, are at especially higher risk for conditions such as gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss, making the need for best dental and oral care practices essential.

The American Dental Association recommends:

  1. Brushing teeth using a soft or medium-soft toothbrush twice a day for two minute with a fluoridated toothpaste.
  2. Cleaning between the teeth with floss or another interdental cleaner once every day to remove dental plaque.
  3. Replacing toothbrushes once they start showing wear and tear.

Also important: seeing a dentist for annual checkups. Those visits are imperative to the early detection and treatment of oral diseases. For instance, according to the CDC, nearly 70% of adults aged 65 years or older have gum disease. Additionally, cancers of the mouth (oral and pharyngeal cancers) are primarily diagnosed in older adults, with the median age at diagnosis being 62 years, according to the CDC. During the visit, the dentist will also look for cavities, which, if left untreated, can cause pain and infections, ultimately leading to problems with eating and speaking, according to health officials.

Seniors are also more likely to take prescribed medications for conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and pain. And dry mouth can often be a common side effect of those medications. To that end, older adults should ask their dentists for recommendations to help relieve dry mouth symptoms.

At home, seniors can help maintain a healthy mouth by refraining from the use of tobacco products, limiting alcoholic drinks, and cutting back on sugary foods and drinks.

Elderwerks Educational Services : 251 E. Northwest Highway, Palatine, IL 60067: 855.462.0100 : https://www.elderwerks.org/