Aging is an unavoidable part of our lives, but it should not cause sacrifices to our oral health. For seniors, this often causes oral health problems, including higher rates of cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss. Seniors require more attention when it comes to their oral health, most often because they are part of the demographic prone to diseases caused by aging. But how can senior oral health care be improved, and what can you do to help loved ones in your life gain the most out of their dental care?
What Happens To Your Oral Health As You Age
Age-related health concerns are highly prominent among seniors for various reasons. Aging, in itself, tends to result from a complex chain of reactions and effects that occur within our bodies and can be summarized by these effects:
- Cellular Oxidative Stress: Cellular oxidative stress is the process of cells dying, one of the primary effects that cause aging. As a natural process, it affects the functions of tissues, organs, and all other body areas. By researchers, it is referred to as the imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants within the body. Because of cellular oxidative stress, the body’s ability to maintain and absorb nutrients is altered and can lead to problems such as Vitamin D deficiencies.
- Declining Immune Systems: Because of the effects of cellular oxidative stress, the immune system’s ability to defend against diseases and bacteria is impacted. Due to this impact, it can often result in a higher rate of oral diseases such as cavities and gum diseases in seniors and those with compromised immune system diseases.
- Changing Hormonal Levels: Another primary system that’s intricate to our youth is our hormone levels. When hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone decline, it causes the immune system to respond slower to diseases and bacteria, which makes the body more prone to genetic diseases or conditions such as osteoporosis and inflammation.
All of these factors heavily impact seniors’ oral health, increasing the likelihood of cavities, tooth loss, TMJ disorder, and other conditions. Other outside factors such as environment, nutrition, and finances can heavily affect their oral health, and it’s important for dentists to pay special attention to seniors to provide better means of oral care. This starts by not only treating the conditions they face but also educating their loved ones about how to promote better oral health and prevent the onset of disease.
What Can Loved One’s Do To Promote Better Oral Health
One of the best ways patients and their loved ones can care for their oral health is through preventative care, including scheduling regular checkups, brushing and flossing, and receiving treatment for oral health problems. By working with your dentist, you can find treatment resources that can help care for your loved one’s oral health, including dental implants, bridges, and dentures, and your dentist can provide you with ways to support your loved one emotionally, physically, and mentally to give them the resources they need for better oral care.