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Aging & Dental Health Care

Older adults face certain oral health issues that younger people usually don’t have to face. In this article, we provide a summary of some of the most common ones.

Periodontal Disease

More than half of seniors have periodontal disease, which is suspected to play a role in causing diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. And of course it definitely can lead to tooth loss. Perhaps not surprisingly, almost one-fifth of seniors no longer have any of their natural teeth. The resulting reliance on easily-chewable soft foods can result in a decline in nutrition and health. In addition, toothlessness often leads to embarrassment and a loss of self-esteem, not to mention pain and difficulty with normal speech.

Medications

Seniors typically have a higher rate of medication usage compared to the general population. This is dentally relevant because about 400 commonly used medications can cause dry mouth, which exacerbates existing dental problems and increases the risk of oral disease generally.

Physical & Cognitive Issues

Potential physical and cognitive impairments often associated with aging can make proper oral hygiene very difficult. Patients with dementia, for example, are at increased risk for cavities, periodontal disease, and oral infection because of decreased ability to perform adequate oral hygiene.

Insurance

About one half of seniors never go to the dentist, often due to lack of insurance coverage. Upon retirement, seniors often lose their dental insurance, and only a percent of retirees retain dental coverage. Medicare, the federally-funded insurance program that most seniors rely on for their medical coverage, doesn’t cover routine dental care at all.

Prevention Is the Best Medicine At Any Age

Maintaining proper daily oral hygiene, following a healthy diet and lifestyle, and having regular dental exams will go a long way toward avoiding oral health problems regardless of how old you are.

At Wildflower Dental & Orthodontics, we’ve designed our practice to provide a comfortable and enjoyable dental experience for patients of all ages. Give us a call and set up an appointment with Dr. Walkington today.

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