Monday, December 1, 2014

Four Common Reasons Senior Citizens Need to Visit the Dentist

Maintaining your oral health by visiting a dentist regularly is important at any age, but it's particularly critical for senior citizens. Seniors may be more susceptible to dental issues because of physical or cognitive issues that keep them from being able to floss and brush their teeth as effectively as before. Here are four specific issues older people typically face.


Cavities are more closely associated with children, but people can get them at any age - this is particularly a problem among people age 65 and older. The risk for this condition increases with age because older adults typically don't visit the dentist as often as they used to. As a result, cavities go undetected and untreated for far too long.

 Problems Eating

People who have ill-fitting dentures, oral infections, missing teeth, cavities or gum disease can find it extremely difficult to eat. This problem leads to issues with the balance of their diet, as well as the quality of the food they eat. Seeing a dentist is even more important for people who have this problem because it could easily become a quality-of-life issue.

Dry Mouth

Many seniors suffer from dry mouth, which is also known as xerostomia. Saliva plays a very important role in helping to prevent tooth decay, but many seniors take multiple medications that can cause dry mouth. These include pain pills, medications for blood pressure, antihistamines, decongestants, incontinence medications and several others. Most experts recommend that seniors reduce their intake of alcohol and caffeine and also drink lots of water to help combat this problem.

Gum Disease

This results in an infection of the gums and the other tissues that keep teeth securely in place. Gum disease typically gets worse as a person ages, eventually leading to significant pain when chewing. The two most common forms of the disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. The symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen gums that can bleed easily, while periodontitis occurs when the gums separate from the teeth, forming spaces that later become infected.

Both forms of gum disease eventually lead to a build up of plaque on the teeth. If this plaque is not removed on a regular basis, it turns into tartar that can't be cleaned by brushing alone. Only a dentist can safely and effectively remove this material.

While proper flossing and brushing can help mitigate these and other oral heath problems, the best way to prevent them entirely is by visiting a dentist on a regular basis. If you are a senior citizen and you simply can't take care of your teeth as well as you used to, a dental professional may be able to suggest ways to make it easier. Please don't ignore this problem, because it will only worsen over time.

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