Why Is Good Oral Hygiene Important for Older Adults?

Article At A Glance

  • Senior citizens who take care of their teeth enjoy various health benefits.
  • Aging bodies are less resilient against oral infections, so care is pivotal.
  • Regular dental checkups are the best way to catch age-related oral cancers early.
  • Why is good oral hygiene important for older adults? Read on to learn what Affinity Dental tells senior patients about the importance of oral hygiene and what that could mean for their later years.

    Do you need help with any oral health issues in Chicago? Call Affinity Dental today at (773) 904-7079 to schedule an appointment with caring, competent dental medical professionals. 

    The Importance of Oral Hygiene and Health for Senior Citizens

    Good oral hygiene is essential for all adults and children, but it is even more so as people age. As we age, our body’s defenses become less resilient against oral infections and other conditions harmful to our teeth and overall well-being. That’s why routine professional dental care can prevent common dental diseases that affect older people in greater numbers, including tooth decay and gum disease.

    Implications of Poor Dental Hygiene for Seniors

    While dental hygiene is important for everyone’s oral and overall health, the bad outcomes that follow poor hygiene are more significant for older folks. For example:

    Increased Risk of Tooth Decay and Gum Disease

    Older adults are more likely to suffer tooth decay and gum disease. Without proper oral hygiene, plaque builds up more as the years pass, producing acid and speeding up tooth enamel erosion. That process leads to cavities, cracks, and more tooth decay.

    Gum diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis, are also more likely to develop if we don’t maintain dental hygiene as we age. If it progresses, that swelling and bleeding leads to discomfort and the potential for dangerous infections.

    Potential for Tooth Loss

    Improper or inadequate oral hygiene among older adults often results in tooth loss. This directly impacts a person’s ability to chew and enjoy various foods. 

    There’s also the chance of nutritional deficiencies and a cascading effect of poor overall health outcomes. 

    Impact on Overall Health (Malnutrition, Diabetes Complications, etc.)

    Oral infections in older adults make chronic conditions, like diabetes, worse, leading to more severe complications. 

    Science has linked certain oral infections to increased inflammation in multiple cellular systems throughout the body. Often, this leads to higher blood sugar levels and worsened metabolic function. These conditions also weaken white blood cells and the body’s ability to combat infections.

    Social and Psychological Effects (Low Self-Esteem, Social Isolation)

    Dental issues can have significant social and psychological effects. Older adults with poor oral health may feel self-conscious about their appearance, leading to low self-esteem and social isolation. They might avoid social interactions due to embarrassment about their teeth, negatively impacting their mental health and overall quality of life.

    Many times, the impact on mental health and quality of life happens unconsciously, but it is still very real. 

    Common Oral Health Concerns in Older Adults

    Why is good oral hygiene important for older adults? The answer often involves diseases and conditions stemming from an older person’s dental health. Affinity Dental treats all dental conditions for older adults, including these common ones:

    Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) and Its Causes

    Dry mouth, medically described as xerostomia, is common in older adults. Certain medications and underlying health conditions cause reduced saliva production, which makes chewing, swallowing, and speaking more difficult and uncomfortable. Dry mouth often leads to tooth decay and gum diseases.

    Root Decay

    Root decay is a deeper issue than ordinary enamel decay, as it affects the part of the tooth that lies below the gumline. As we age, the gums tend to recede, exposing parts of the roots of our teeth that were previously protected. Unfortunately, that process increases the risk of damage because the roots do not have the same type of enamel protection as the crowns of our teeth, so dental hygiene becomes even more important.

    Tooth Sensitivity and Aging

    You likely already realize that tooth sensitivity increases with age, often due to ordinary wear and tear. As this protective enamel wears down, it exposes dentin tissue. You’ll feel more sensitive to hot, cold, and sweet foods and liquids.

    Gum Disease (Gingivitis and Periodontitis)

    It’s helpful for all seniors to become more aware of preventing gum disease as they age. The milder form of gum disease — gingivitis — can progress into more serious periodontitis if left untreated. Progressive gum disease causes severe damage to the gum tissue and the underlying bone tissue supporting the teeth, so tooth loss is a common outcome. 

    Additional Read : Why do you need a periodontist for your gum disease?

    Oral Cancer

    Dentistry tends to draw a general correlation between increasing age and the risk of oral cancer, and the best outcomes require early detection and treatment. Regular oral cleanings and checkups are especially critical for that purpose, especially for symptoms such as:

    • Rough areas
    • Sores
    • Lumps inside the mouth

    Regular dental checkups can make a huge difference in the early detection of oral cancers. 

    Tips for Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene in Older Age

    So, why is good oral hygiene important for older adults? A generally healthy mouth and teeth ensure a better quality of life and can positively affect your health in the later years. Here are a few tips to get this right:

    Proper Brushing and Flossing

    The daily foundations of good oral hygiene are the same for everyone—proper brushing and flossing. Maintaining these good habits is critical as we age, so seniors should brush their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste just like everyone else. Older patients with lowered dexterity often appreciate an electric toothbrush and floss or use proper interdental cleaners to remove plaque buildup from between their teeth. 

    Helpful Oral Care Products

    Seniors should choose their oral care products carefully. Typically, our older dental patients find extra benefits from quality products designed to manage common dental issues, like fluoride toothpaste for sensitive teeth and antimicrobial mouthwash. 

    Regular Dental Checkups

    While regular dental cleanings and checkups are important for everyone, this accelerates as we age. Maintain a twice-annual schedule for regular care and regular examinations to detect and treat serious conditions like oral cancer, gum disease, or decay. 

    Sparkling Clean Dentures Every Day

    Older people with dentures will also need an essential daily cleaning schedule to keep their oral health in check. Denture wearers should use only cleaning products specifically designed for their type of dentures (to avoid damage and skin irritation). With most designs, you will also need to soak your dentures overnight to keep them in proper condition.

    Affinity Dental Cares for Older Adults Oral Health in Chicago

    Practices like Affinity Dental commit to providing all ages with compassionate service that will maximize the quality of a person’s dental health and comfort. The modern office in Chicago is conveniently located and easily accessible. If you are hesitant about updating your dental health after a long time of inattention, let us put your mind at ease and get your dental health back on track – no questions asked!

    Why is good oral hygiene important for older adults? If you’d like to know more, please call Affinity Dental today at (773) 904-7079 to schedule a consultation!

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