The idea of elderly oral health is not an oxymoron. Rather, it is instrumental to the goal of healthy aging. Good oral health helps you chew properly, which means that it allows you to continue to get good nutrition. It also reduces harmful inflammation that has effects throughout your body.
Fortunately, the basics underlying elderly oral health are the same good practices that patients should adopt throughout their lives. While there are a few risk factors specific to seniors, they typically can be addressed and accounted for.
The Symbiosis of Oral Health and Overall Health
As the saying goes, a healthy mouth truly is the gateway to a healthy body. If you want to enjoy optimal wellness throughout your lifespan, you need to take care of your smile.
Oral diseases seem to have an association with a variety of systemic health issues, including:
- Heart disease
While the exact mechanisms underlying these apparent relationships is still being explored, it is likely due to inflammation present in these conditions and oral health issues. Therefore, keeping oral bacteria at bay is a key strategy for healthy aging.
Maintaining Oral Health As You Age: Special Considerations
Many of the elements of maintaining a healthy smile as you get older are exactly the same as the ones of oral health in younger people, such as:
- Practicing good oral hygiene
- Eating a nutritious diet
- Limiting intake of sugary foods
- Seeing your dentist for exams and cleanings twice a year
That being said, certain risk factors can present challenges specific to older adults.
- Physical or cognitive impairments that make it more difficult to perform oral hygiene tasks
- Unable to leave home to see the dentist regularly
- Side effects of medications increase risk of oral diseases
While these risks are noteworthy, your dentist can also work with you to develop a plan to minimize them. For example, for older adults who have great difficulty leaving their homes, homebound care can help to improve access to professional dental services like exams and cleanings.
Has it been more than six months since your last dental checkup? To maintain your elderly oral health and get back on track, call our office to schedule an appointment.