The Importance of Dental Care for Seniors in Assisted Living
By Lucy Wyndham
Dental health is a vital component of your overall health. Oral health issues like periodontal disease and tooth decay have been linked to systemic conditions such as heart disease, stroke and infection. With age, the risk of tooth loss and other oral health problems increases, with more than 27% of people over age 65 having no remaining teeth. Edentulism can make it difficult to enjoy a varied, nutritious diet, which leads to further health complications and can diminish a person’s overall quality of life. For people in assisted living communities, it is important for caretakers to be aware of the dental needs of seniors and to take steps towards preventing dental and periodontal disease.
Biannual Checkups Allow For Prevention and Early Intervention
Checkups are important for people of all ages, however, with advanced age, enamel begins to wear and gums begin to recede, increasing the risk for oral health problems. Periodic preventive visits to the dentist allow for the earliest possible detection and treatment of oral health problems. These visits are crucial to your overall health and should be covered by all major insurance providers, including Medicaid.
During biannual checkups, your dentist will perform a thorough teeth cleaning to remove plaque buildup and food debris from difficult to reach crevices between the teeth and gums. Checkups also involve the use of diagnostic imaging to detect tooth decay and other conditions in their earliest stages, when they are easiest to treat. Oral cancer screenings are also an effective component of a comprehensive checkup, and involve a visual and physical and visual inspection of the mouth and throat to identify signs of precancerous and cancerous growth.
Protect The Teeth and Gums
Brushing, flossing and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle are important steps you can take each day to protect your teeth and gums . Caretakers should assist those who cannot perform routine oral hygiene tasks on their own, by gently brushing the teeth, gums and tongue with a fluoridated toothpaste twice a day. Flossing at least once a day removes plaque buildup from between the teeth to reduce your risk of periodontal disease. Helping those in your care maintain a diet that is low in sugar prevents cavities, and providing programs to help people quit smoking can protect against oral and throat cancers.
Looking For Solutions To Replace Missing Teeth
Partial or complete tooth loss is prevalent among people over the age of 65. Periodontal disease is the most common cause for tooth loss, but decay and injury can cause tooth loss as well. Fortunately, there are advanced options for replacing missing teeth, helping people who are affected by tooth loss feel confident in their smiles. Dental implants and dentures offer effective and aesthetically pleasing solutions for rebuilding your smile.
Furthermore, dental implants come as close as possible to recreating the appearance and function of natural teeth, and help prevent bone loss in the jaw. Implants can replace one tooth, several teeth or a complete upper or lower arch. Dentures can often provide a more cost-effective solution and are often covered under services such as Medicaid. It’s important to properly care for your dentures and to periodically have them adjusted or replaced to accommodate naturally occurring changes within the jaw and gums.
Maintaining excellent oral hygiene helps seniors enjoy better health and a better quality of life. For seniors in assisted living facilities, it’s important to have access to affordable dental care that is suited to meet the needs of the aging population. With periodic checkups, restorative and prosthodontic treatment and the right daily habits, seniors can enjoy the healthy, beautiful smiles they deserve.