Oral Health for Seniors

It is important for everybody to maintain a clean and healthy mouth. Indeed, not only are oral infections and diseases distressing and painful, but they also have a negative impact on your ability to speak and to eat.

Statistically-speaking, older people are at greater risk of developing oral health problems because of their higher levels of dependency on others, and therefore rely on staff to look after their teeth and general oral health for them. For this reason it is absolutely essential that care home staff not only become educated about the importance of oral hygiene, but also learn how to best to deliver this aspect of personal care to their residents.   

The oral health problems that the march of time can induce as people get older include:

Darkened teeth

Many foods stain teeth and not just teas, coffees and sodas, but otherwise healthy foods like berries can also cause staining. Darkening of teeth can also be caused by a reduction in the level of dentin, one of the four major components of teeth.

Gum disease

This is caused primarily by the presence of plaque and tartar and is exacerbated by pieces of food being left in teeth, smoking tobacco, poor diet, and certain diseases like cancer, anaemia and diabetes.  Poor-fitting dentures can also be a cause of gum disease, adhesive products are recommended for avoiding issues.

Tooth loss and dentures

Tooth loss can be caused by a number of factors. These include the more obvious periodontal disease due to poor dental hygiene, but could also be cause by trauma from an accident, or it could be due to congenital absence.  

Ill-fitting dentures can cause gum disease and gum disease can cause tooth loss, so if a person has any remaining teeth, it is important to maintain dentures in order to help keep their teeth in check.  

Dry mouth

This is caused by the reduction in the flow of saliva, which in turn can be caused by radiation-based cancer treatments, in addition to Sjögren’s syndrome and other diseases and also certain medications.

Root decay

Taking the form of cavities at the root of your teeth, root decay is generally caused by acids from foods and the affected area spreads quicker than on other parts of the tooth. .  

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