Oral Healt and Older Adults
Oral Healthand Older Adults
People are living longer and healthier lives. Older adults also are more likely to keep their teeth for a lifetime than they were a decade ago. However, studies indicate that older people have the highest rates of periodontal disease and need to do more to maintain good oral health.
Whatever your age, good oral health is essential. Its important to keep your mouth clean, healthy, feeling good and to know the state of your periodontal health. Consider a few of the reasons
Your teeth play an important role in speaking, chewing and in maintaining proper alignment of other teeth.
A major cause of failure in joint replacements is infection, which can travel in the bloodstream from the mouth
People with dentures or loose and missing teeth often have restricted diets
Most men and women age 65 and older report that a smile is very important for appearance.
Recent research has advanced the idea that periodontal disease is linked to major health concerns such as heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and diabetes.
The good news is that research suggests that the chance of developing periodontal disease may be related to risk factors other than age. Risk factors that may make older people more susceptible include general health, diminished immune system, medications, depression, memory loss, diminished salivary flow, functional impairments and financial status.
Special Concerns for
Women who are menopausal or post-menopausal may experience changes in their mouths. Hormonal changes in older women may result in discomfort in the mouth, including dry mouth, pain and burning sensations in the gum tissue and altered taste, especially salty, peppery or sour.
Menopausal gingivostomatitis affects a small percentage of women. Gums that look dry or shiney, bleed easily and range from abnormally pale to deep red mark this condition. Estrogen supplements may help to relieve these symptoms.
Bone loss is associated with both periodontal disease and osteoporosis. More research is being done to determine if and how a relationship between osteoporosis and periodontal disease exists. Women considering Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to help fight osteoporosis should note that this may also help protect their teeth.
More and more older people are selecting dental implants over dentures as an option for lost teeth. Whether you have lost one or all of your teeth, dental implants allow you to have teeth that look and feel just like your own. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth or bridge in place. Dental implants are more tooth-saving than traditional bridgework, since implants do not rely on neighboring teeth for support. The success rate of older adults with implants is similar to that of younger adults. If youre in good health and your periodontist can restore healthy gums and adequate bone support, youre never too old for dental implants.
Dental implants are intimately connected with the gum tissues and underlying bone in the mouth. They can prevent the bone loss and gum recession that often accompanies bridgework and dentures and preserve the integrity of facial features. When teeth are missing, the bone which supported them begins to deteriorate and can result in dramatic changes in your appearance, such as increased wrinkles around the mouth and lips that cave in losing their natural shape.
Periodontists, working with other dental professionals, have the special knowledge, training and facilities that you need to have teeth that look and feel just like your own. Talk with your periodontist to find out if dental implants are an option for you.