In 2010, senior citizens constituted 13 percent or 40.3 million of the population. The number of senior citizens present is 12 times the number recorded in 1900.
The term “old age” is equated toward the of the human life cycle, seniority, or those above the age of 60.
It is often marked by the thinning and shrinkage of bones and joints and the loss of the skin’s elasticity. Old age also manifests in reduced mental and cognitive ability.
And for dental health, reaching the latter part of normal life usually means less saliva production and the use of dentures due to tooth loss.
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 27.27 percent of seniors over the age of 65 have no remaining teeth.
Seniors And Their Oral Health
Their age puts older people at risk of oral health problems. These health problems include darker teeth, dry mouth, diminished sense of taste, root decay, gum disease, tooth loss, uneven jawbone, denture-induced stomatitis, and thrush.
As we age, the enamel gets thinner.
Our lifetime consumption of stain-causing foods and beverages becomes more evident on our teeth as the enamel thins. The darker yellow dentin or the bone-like tissue underlying the tooth enamel begins to show through. The exposure of the dentin causes the teeth to darken in color.
Reduced saliva flow in seniors causes dry mouth.
Also, because other health concerns usually accompany old age, seniors often take various medications for their conditions. As a result, this often causes dry mouth.
Sense of taste can diminish.
Hearing loss is often associated with the advancement of age. Yet, hearing is not the only sense that diminishes in time. The sense of taste begins to weaken as well.
Root decay may be more likely.
Exposure of the tooth root to decay-causing acids due to the recession of the gum tissue leads to root decay. Roots lack the enamel to protect them, making them vulnerable to decay.
Older people are also at risk of gum disease.
Gum disease development is due to faulty oral hygiene; tobacco use; poor fitting bridges and dentures; poor diets; and diseases like diabetes, cancer, and anemia. Gum diseases, in turn, often lead to tooth loss.
An uneven jawbone is caused by a missing tooth that is not replaced.
An empty slot from a missing tooth allows the drifting and shifting of the rest of the teeth into open spaces.
Denture-induced stomatitis is a real problem for denture wearers.
Ill-fitting dentures, poor dental hygiene, or a buildup of the fungus Candida albicans causes denture-induced stomatitis or the inflammation of the tissue underlying a denture. The overgrowth of candida, usually due to poor diet, drugs, or diseases can lead to thrush and affect the immune system.
It is good to remember that despite age being a contributing factor to dental problems, it is not the sole reason behind them.
Medical conditions like arthritis in fingers and hands can make brushing and flossing difficult or impossible to perform.
Several ailments may also contribute to dental problems, and vice versa. To reduce the risks, practicing good oral habits is essential as young as possible.
Since tooth loss is prevalent in old age, dental professionals may recommend dental bridges, dentures, or dental implants to replace the missing tooth or teeth.
Maintainance of dentures is necessary to prevent bacteria and plaque buildup. Soak the oral appliance in a denture cleaner recommended by your dentist to kill germs, eradicate odor, and prolong the working order of the equipment. Do not soak the dentures in hot water or abrasive substances as this may cause warping. Removing the denture at least four to eight hours or while sleeping is recommended.
Visit a dentist regularly to detect early signs and symptoms of dental and periodontal diseases.
Addressing dental problems is also important to prevent further complications that can be more harmful one’s oral health and overall well-being.