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With the population of older Americans on pace to double in the next two decades, seniors and those approaching retirement should take steps now to preserve a healthy mouth through their golden years.
Dr. Erik Mendelsohn advises that aging baby boomers and seniors, and their care providers, should be paying as much attention to their oral care as they do to their cholesterol, skin quality, blood pressure and overall fitness. This group faces unique oral health challenges, but with proper care there is absolutely no need for the aging process to be synonymous with tooth loss and related health problems.
While it is commonly thought that tooth loss is a natural part of aging, here at Serenity Smile Designs we know that professional prevention therapies may help seniors manage their oral health needs allowing lifelong use of their teeth, which remain crucial for adequate nutrition and overall health.
Many older adults have a history of periodontal disease and or gum recession.
The roots of teeth are softer and rougher than enamel, allowing more plaque to collect and making them more susceptible to root decay. Without intervention and consistent care periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. This is another important reason to receive routine dental care at your local Egg Harbor Township dental office.
Other threats to older adults are the common cavity and oral infections, incidences of which increase with age. Cavities are a contagious disease influenced by many factors, including, dry mouth, side effects from medicine, Alzheimer’s, dementia and other mental or physical disabilities, along with access to care. Bronchopneumonia and respiration of oral pathogens are other concerns. The bottom line is, bacterial infections of the mouth can spread throughout the body and contribute to overall health problems.
The risk for cavities is increased with dry mouth – called xerostomia – which is one of the most common side effects of medications. Saliva is important because it protects the mouth from cavities by naturally buffering acidic exposures and helping to move food debris out of the oral cavity.
A depletion of saliva can come from prescription and over-the-counter medications. Some popular medications that can cause the dry mouth side effect include those prescribed for cardiovascular disease, arthritis, depression and postmenopausal hormone replacements.
A lack of saliva can also stem from conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, Parkinson’s and even a medical history involving radiation to the head and neck.
Dr. Erik Mendelsohn offers the following tips to older adults to combat dry mouth:
It is especially important for caregivers and family members to be vigilant in ensuring proper oral health care for seniors unable to care for themselves.
South Jersey Dentist Warns that Aging Population Face Unique Oral Health Risks
Senior citizens suffering from physical disabilities or mental illness such as dementia and Alzheimer’s either cannot care for themselves or are in a long-term care facility that may lack access to an oral health care provider.
Patients in nursing homes or who are homebound are encouraged to seek out the services of your local EHT specially licensed dental hygienist. Frequently oral health care providers are notified only when an infection or problem is causing the senior pain or inability to eat.
Prevention is better than emergency care, Dr. Erik Mendelsohn always says. Serenity Smile Designs can provide and administer oral health care for patients with special needs at our local office in EHT.
For seniors with arthritis and other struggles that make it difficult to hold a toothbrush or floss, Dr. Erik Mendelsohn recommends:
There will be approximately 72 million older adults in the U.S. by 2030. The need to address the specific needs of older adults is increasing. Serenity Smile Designs emphasizes the importance of oral health in all populations, and is a leading oral health resource. Please visit our website at www.SerenitySmileDesigns.com for more information on oral health care, or call (609) 646-1989 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Erik Mendelsohn.
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