Dental Care for Aging Adults: Special Considerations
As we age, it becomes increasingly crucial to prioritize our oral health. The natural aging process can significantly impact oral health, making it essential to adapt dental care routines and seek professional guidance. Neglecting oral hygiene may result in a systemic health issue or lead to several other issues, such as gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
Keep reading to explore aging adults' unique dental care needs and considerations.
Increased Risk of Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
According to statistics from the CDC, 68% of adults aged 65 and older have untreated tooth decay. These conditions can cause tooth loss. Several studies have also indicated that poor dental hygiene is linked to systemic health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.
Aging adults should be vigilant about practicing good oral hygiene. This routine includes brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings.
Dry Mouth and Its Implications
Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a common problem among older adults and can be caused by certain medications, medical conditions, or natural changes in saliva production. Without enough saliva, the mouth becomes more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease. Staying hydrated, avoiding alcohol and cigarettes, and, if necessary, utilizing saliva substitutes or prescription drugs to boost saliva production are all critical for aging individuals. Regular dental visits can also help identify and address any issues related to dry mouth.
As we age, the protective enamel on our teeth may wear away, leading to tooth sensitivity. It can make eating and drinking certain foods and beverages uncomfortable or even painful. Studies show that more than 40% of adults experience tooth sensitivity. Using toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth, maintaining good oral hygiene, and avoiding acidic and sugary foods can help.
Increased Risk of Oral Cancer
Oral cancer is a serious health concern that affects people of all ages, but the risk increases with age. Early detection is crucial for successful treatment, so regular dental check-ups are vital for aging adults. Dentists are trained to identify signs of oral cancer during routine examinations, such as sores, lumps, or abnormal patches in the mouth.
Dental Care Access and Affordability
Access to dental care can be challenging for aging adults, especially those with limited mobility or who live in rural areas. Nearly 1 in 5 adults aged 65 and older have lost all their teeth. Medicare, the primary health insurance for older Americans, does not typically cover routine dental care. However, some Medicare Advantage plans may offer dental coverage. Exploring other options, such as dental savings plans or community health clinics, can help address affordability concerns and ensure regular dental care.
Dental care for aging adults is vital to their overall well-being. Getting regular dental check-ups, practicing good oral hygiene habits, and seeking tailored treatments would be the key. With this, seniors can enjoy a lifetime of healthy and radiant smiles, enhancing their quality of life as they embrace the golden years.
Take the first step towards a healthy smile in your golden years with Clay & Associates DDS, PLC. Whether you need preventive care, denture maintenance, or treatment for specific oral health concerns, we've got you covered. Schedule your appointment today, and let us help you maintain your oral health and enjoy a confident smile for years to come.