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5 Main Dental Health Concerns in Aging Adults

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Dental issues are common in seniors and can affect more than just their smiles. If it hurts to eat, your senior loved one may not be getting enough nutrients and calories, which can cause poor health and weight loss. Additionally, your loved one may not want to be around others if he or she is self-conscious about his or her teeth. Look out for these five common dental issues and have them addressed by a dentist if your loved one is experiencing them.

1. Tooth Loss

Though most adults have an average of 32 teeth, this number decreases with age. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, seniors over the age of 65 have an average of 18.9 teeth, and 27 percent of seniors have no teeth at all. Fortunately, modern advances in dental implants and dentures have made it possible for seniors with tooth loss to eat regular foods and feel confident in their smiles. Talk with your loved one’s dentist about which option is best.

2. Dry Mouth

Xerostomia, commonly known as dry mouth, occurs when the glands don’t produce enough saliva, and it can cause discomfort, make eating more difficult, and lead to an increase in cavities. Saliva naturally washes bacteria out of the mouth after eating. When there isn’t enough saliva, cavities may form. Chewing sugar-free gum regularly and sucking on hard sugar-free candies can produce extra saliva. Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications. Talk with the doctor about changing your loved one’s medications if dry mouth doesn’t go away. 

If your loved one has difficulty managing medications because of cognitive issues or other limitations, compassionate help is just a phone call away. Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Lakewood seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.

3. Gum Disease

Gum disease is a disease of the soft tissue that holds the teeth in place. If your loved one has poor dental hygiene, plaque may build up and harden. Eventually, the bacteria affects the gums and causes gum disease to occur. Gum disease can cause pain and bleeding when brushing and flossing. It may also be a contributing factor to heart disease. Attending regular dental visits, brushing the teeth at least twice a day, and flossing at least once a day can prevent gum disease. 

A professional caregiver can be a great asset for seniors who need help with everyday tasks like brushing and flossing their teeth. Families who need help caring for a senior loved one can turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Lakewood home care. Services available in our customizable care plans include meal prep, mental and social stimulation, assistance with personal hygiene tasks, and much more.

4. Cavities

Dental decay is more common among seniors than it is among children and younger adults. If cavities aren’t taken care of right away by a dentist, they can lead to more serious dental issues, such as infected dental pulp (requiring root canal treatment) and tooth loss. Eating sugar and acidic foods can cause cavities to form. Encourage your loved one to cut back on sweets and drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dental decay.

5. Tooth Discoloration

With age, the enamel of the teeth wears away, which can cause teeth to become discolored. Tooth discoloration could make your loved one feel self-conscious about his or her smile. Avoiding coffee, wine, and soda can prevent discoloration. Additionally, using enamel-strengthening toothpaste and mouthwash can fortify healthy tooth enamel.

Oral health plays a significant role in overall wellbeing in the golden years. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional in-home care. Lakewood, CO, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life. To schedule a free in-home consultation, give us a call at (303) 987-5992 today.