Elders (65+) and Dental Care, part 2
The following content was submitted and authored by the dental experts at NewMouth…
85 percent of older adults suffer from oral disease and 55 percent suffer from conditions that develop into periodontal disease. If left untreated, however, many of these conditions often result in tooth loss. Maintaining a healthy mouth by sticking to lifelong dental care habits, such as visiting the dentist at least twice a year for routine check-ups and brushing regularly with fluoride, can help reduce the risk of serious oral diseases and tooth loss.
Common conditions and diseases that affect people over 65 include:
Gum Disease (Periodontitis)
Gingivitis is a minor gum infection that develops into periodontal disease if left untreated for a long period of time. PD, also referred to as periodontitis, is a serious oral inflammatory disease that damages the gums, jawbone, and may result in tooth loss. Up to 35 percent of all tooth extractions are due to PD. Periodontitis is the result of poor oral hygiene due to:
- Long-term use of medications
- Old age
- Neglected dental treatment
- Poor nutrition
Symptoms include inflamed gums, bleeding gums, loose teeth, and gums that pull away from the teeth. Seniors with PD require specialized treatment for this disease. For example, treatment may include scaling and root planing, flap surgery, bone grafts, or gum grafts.
Tooth root caries and decay are caused by exposure of the roots to decay-causing acids. As the gums pull away from the teeth (typically due to periodontal disease), the roots accumulate bacteria. This is because roots are less protected than teeth since they do not have enamel. Older individuals have a higher risk of developing gum disease, which also makes them more prone to root decay. Common treatment options for this condition include fillings, tooth extractions and replacement teeth, such as dental implants or bridges.
Decay & Tooth Loss
If dental cavities are left untreated for a long period of time, more serious oral conditions or diseases may result, such as decay, tooth loss, or periodontal disease. When teeth fall out or need to be extracted due to extreme decay or gum disease, common restorative treatment options include:
Oral cancer, also referred to as mouth cancer, begins with the development of abnormal carcinoma cells. As a result, mouth sores, that do not disappear on their own, develop. The disease is life-threatening without early diagnosis and treatment. Unfortunately, oral cancer is usually discovered after it has spread to another part of the body, such as the lymph nodes of the neck. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are common treatment options, depending on the stage of cancer. Early detection is the key to a high survival rate. So, it is crucial to see your dentist at least once a year for an oral cancer screening.
Stomatitis is defined as inflammation of the mouth and lips. In particular, dentures may cause stomatitis in older patients if the artificial teeth do not fit correctly, aren’t cleaned properly, or grow fungus (Candida albicans) over time.
About JD Miller
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John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions.
Phone: (781) 378-2164