Cavities, periodontal disease, and tooth loss are not givens as you age. You can have good teeth in your golden years. Here's what you should know about dental care for seniors.
It used to be that seniors assumed loss of teeth was a normal aspect of aging. They now know that teeth can be kept for a lifetime and oral health can be maintained.
There are differences in dental care for seniors, however, and those require your vigilance and care.
Dry mouth (xerostomia) affects 30 percent of patients older than 65, and 40 percent of patients older than 80. This is mostly the result of multiple medications that seniors take. More than 400 drugs can cause dry mouth. But it may also be the result of conditions such as diabetes.
Because saliva is the workhorse of the mouth, guarding against disease, a reduction in its flow can lead to problems such as cavities. Root cavities are a particular problem for older adults because the soft tissue (gingiva) surrounding the roots recedes, and medications reduce protective saliva at the root surface, according to the American Dental Association.
January 12, 2018
Janet O’Dell, RN