May is Older Americans Month, and for some seniors who lack insurance or are on a fixed income, dental care may not be a high priority. We want to acknowledge this problem and bring awareness to the issues that occur as we age.
Advanced aging increases the risk for seniors on many dental health issues, including:
- Darkened teeth
- Dry mouth
- Denture-induced stomatitis
- Loss of taste
- Root decay
- Gum disease (periodontal disease)
- Oral Cancer
- Tooth loss or receding gums
- Uneven jawbone
It’s important that as we age we understand the growing risks and that we continue to seek out prevention and care from our health providers.
Factors for Increased Health Risks
Bad habits that affect our dental health include but are not limited to drinking, smoking and poor nutrition. When these bad habits have become a part of our lives for 30 or more years, the potential for dental problems will naturally increase. And not only are we aging physically, but the onset of illnesses such as arthritis or dementia can also increase our risk by causing difficulty in normal, daily routines such as brushing and flossing.
Another factor in aging is the increase in prescribed or over-the-counter medications. Medications can cause dry mouth, which in turn increases the risk of cavities.
Oral Cancer is a concern at any age, and regular visits to your dentist may find problems before they become serious. However, the American Cancer Society reports the average age of most people diagnosed with mouth, throat and tongue cancer to be 62.
If you are a caregiver, make an effort to remind your senior to brush and floss daily and assist them however needed to visit a dentist on a regular basis. If they wear dentures, notice if they have difficulty eating or if they are not eating as much as usual. It could be a sign that they are having issues with their dentures.