Good oral care is something that spans a lifetime, from early childhood through retirement. Seniors and elderly individuals in particular have very different dental health needs than the rest of the population. As the risk for complications rises with age, it becomes more important than ever to prioritize dental check-ups and proper at-home care.
Increased Risk of Disease
The risk of developing mouth-related diseases only increases with age, with periodontal disease the most common problem among individuals over age 65. More than half of seniors in this age group have some degree of periodontal disease that has resulted in the formation of gum pockets or caused the gums to recede or pull away from the teeth. Though it is highly treatable and preventable, gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis are the leading cause of tooth loss among senior adults.
Likewise, risk for other diseases also increase with age, including the risk of tooth decay. The surface of the teeth and roots become more porous over time due to a lifetime of brushing. These softer surfaces are less resistant to bacteria and may become more easily susceptible to cavities. Seniors should also make it a priority to be screened for oral cancer, as it is primarily diagnosed in individuals over age 40. At Lane Avenue Family Dentistry, we inspect the soft tissues of the mouth for the formation of sores and lesions during routine dental check-ups and watch for signs of potential malignancy.
Complications with Oral Care during Senior Adulthood
In addition to an increased risk of disease, seniors and elderly adults are also prone to other complications that can affect oral care. Arthritis, for example, can dramatically affect a person’s ability to properly care for their teeth. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 50 percent of all seniors over age 65 have been diagnosed with arthritis. It is important to discuss this complication with a dentist who may be able to suggest certain techniques, tools and modifications that make brushing and flossing easier with arthritis. This may include the use of an electric toothbrush or attaching a manual toothbrush to a larger object that is easier and less painful to grip and maneuver.
Another common complication among seniors is the development of dry mouth, which can increase the risk of decay and gum disease. Since dry mouth is often caused by prescription medications, older individuals are more likely to suffer from the condition as they increasingly rely on over-the-counter and prescription drugs to manage their health. A dry mouth is unable to rinse away food and bacteria, allowing harmful acids to erode the enamel. It is important to speak with a dentist about the effects of dry mouth and ways it may be treated.
Finding a Dentist for Seniors in Jacksonville, FL
If you are in search of a Jacksonville, Florida dentist who understands the ever-changing oral healthcare needs of senior citizens, we invite you to contact us here at Lane Avenue Family Dentistry. Our team is highly trained and experienced in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of oral diseases and complications that are common among elderly patients. For more information or to schedule your consultation, contact us today. We look forward to serving you soon.