As we grow old, we need to pay more attention to our oral health. Elderly people are more susceptible to oral health issues. Sometimes, their gum becomes weak which leads to the loosening of the teeth.
Oral health has a huge impact on the quality of life, health, and well-being of elderly individuals. Elderly persons are more likely to develop different dental problems. They include tooth loss, decay (dental caries), gum diseases, dry mouth, and oral cancer.
Reasons for the importance of Oral health in the Elderly.
There are lots of reasons why oral health is important for the elderly. The eventual tooth decay that comes with old age can cause health issues as well. Here are health conditions associated with lack of oral health in elderly people;
1. Dental caries
Caries is still a major oral health issue among the elderly for a variety of reasons. They include;
· an increase in the treatment and maintenance of teeth rather than extraction
· age-related salivary changes
· a poor diet
· A higher likelihood of drug treatment with xerostomia as a side effect.
Caries in tooth crowns were frequent among the dentate elderly. As seen in research conducted in England. It shows twenty percent of 75–84-year-olds displaying active root decay. In general, tooth loss due to caries is common. It reflects the fact that the most common therapy to far has been the extraction of the afflicted tooth. The recent way out aims to remove the as little damaged tooth as possible. And concentrate on dosing the affected tooth with fluoride. The goal is to increase patients’ quality of life by preserving their original teeth.
2. Periodontal disease
The most regular findings among the elderly are;
· Excess of bacterial plaque with later gingivitis
· Mild or moderate alveolar bone loss
This is according to epidemiological data on periodontal disease. It is a chronic infectious disease that affects tooth support tissues. About 2 percent had no signs of periodontal disease. But 3.3 percent showed severe periodontal lesions. According to a recent study, severe periodontitis (higher risk of tooth loss) increases with age. But it was modest and stable among the elderly.
This disease is the outcome of untreated caries and periodontal disease. The result is tooth loss and edentulism. This is common but signals a failure of the dental care system. Edentulism also has a link to issues with mastication and nutrition. Some dental experts suggested that it could be an excellent predictor of mortality. But others linked it to significant quality of life deterioration.
4. Dry mouth in the elderly
The importance of dry mouth as a health hazard has grown. This is as people’s life expectancies have increased. Vulnerable old adults have a high prevalence of xerostomia and salivary gland hypofunction. Factors that because this include;
· Polymerization (particularly with antihypertensives, antidepressants, and antipsychotics)
· poor general health
· female sex
· advanced age
Because it is one of the most reported disorders and treatment success rates are low. Various research has been carried out on the impact of dry mouth syndrome. It was on the oral and general quality of life of the elderly.
Diabetes puts you at a higher risk for gum disease and mouth infections like thrush. Gum disease also worsens due to poor diabetes control. Gum disease triggers a systemic inflammatory response. This worsens diabetes and raises the risk of cardiovascular problems.
6. Aspiration pneumonia
There is a link between poor dental health and aspiration pneumonia. It is a leading cause of avoidable hospitalizations and death among the elderly. The mouth is majorly storage for frequent lower respiratory tract infections. This is due to the pile-up of dental plaque. And also, bacterial colonization of teeth, gums, tongue, and dentures. The existence of tooth decay, gum disease, dry mouth, and swallowing difficulties worsens the situation.
7. Oral cancer
The elderly in both high- and low-income countries are at risk of developing oral cancer. It is the eighth-most prevalent cancer in the world, affecting the lips, oral cavity, and pharynx. 38 Men have higher rates of occurrence and fatality than women. Oral cancer is more common as people become older, and it’s more dangerous for people over 65. Disparities in risk profiles, as well as the availability and accessibility of health care, are among the reasons for differences between countries.
Ways to maintain good oral health for the Elderly.
There are also ways to ensure adequate oral health care for the elderly to prevent the occurrence of these diseases. One can help elderly people manage or prevent these dental diseases through adequate and proper care. To achieve proper oral health for the elderly, it is advisable to follow the procedures below;
· Frequent oral health checkups.
Elderly people should visit their dentist often for checkups. Even a small pain in the teeth or gum should not be ignored. It is recommended to go for a checkup at least once a month.
· Planned Oral health care
There are different programs in place in local dental clinics. These programs can help the elderly get a planned oral healthcare service that would sustain them.
· Adequate support with daily oral care
As people grow older, they would need support and care to carry on with daily activities. This also applies to oral care.
· Referral to a Dental Expert.
You can play your part by referring to a good dental clinic to ensure good oral health care. Some elderly individuals may or may not see a dentist regularly. They do engage with a variety of health care professionals. They are in charge of screening and monitoring their health as well as assisting with personal care.