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Oral Health for Seniors

As we age, it’s important to consider all facets of our health to maintain the best quality of life for as long as possible into the sunset years of life. As a society, dental care often takes a backseat to the rest of the body, even though your oral health directly affects overall health and enjoyment of life. Dental emergencies are one of the most common reasons for emergency room visits in the United States. Chronic health conditions and many medications can affect the health of your mouth, making it of particular concern for seniors.

The health of your mouth affects your whole body, not just the teeth and gums. Two in three seniors have gum disease, which can go unnoticed for a long time because symptoms don’t occur until the disease advances. The inflammation caused by gum disease is a contributing risk to heart disease, which is the number one killer in the world. Poor oral health is also a risk for pneumonia, especially in smokers. A dirty mouth can lead to inadvertently inhaling bacteria into the lungs, compounding health problems.

Many seniors suffer from dry mouth, either due to side effects of medications or poor function of the saliva glands due to age. As saliva helps protect the teeth and reduce the presence of bacteria, dry mouth can be a precursor to more serious health problems, like tooth decay or gum disease.

For seniors, making sure to continue regular dental checkups and visits, along with continuing to practice effective tooth brushing habits, is critical to continuing good health.