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The Importance of Oral Care for Older Adults

As we age, we tend to pay a lot of attention to health issues that involve our hearts, our vision, our hearing, and even our mental health. However, our dental health is extremely important to our overall health, and unfortunately, it often is forgotten.

Whether you are a Winter Texan back home in the Rio Grande Valley, or a family member worried about the oral health of an older adult in your life, it is important to recognize the role of good dental and oral hygiene in our lives.

At WhiteWing Dental, our experienced McAllen dentists are ready to help guide you to better oral health. Our dental care experts have put together the following information to give you insight on why it is so important to check and keep up with your oral health as you age.

Common Dental Health Issues for Individuals Aged 55+

According to the Seniors Oral Health Organization:

  • About 75% of the American population aged 60+ only have some of their original teeth.
  • Nearly 23% of adults ages 65-74 have severe gum disease.
  • Dry mouth, which contributes to tooth decay and gum disease, affects 30% of older adults.

Unfortunately, as we age, our bodies lose much of their ability to fight off infections and other illnesses. When older Americans begin to suffer from oral health issues, this can greatly affect their health and quality of life.

Some of the oral health conditions that need to be closely monitored include:

  • Gum Disease: Plaque build-up around the teeth; this is generally caused by a deficient diet and oral hygiene. Advanced gum disease can cause gingivitis – a gum infection. Gingivitis is reversible and the expert McAllen dentists at WhiteWing Dental can help to catch it before it causes major damage.
  • Dry Mouth: A lack of saliva can lead to what is known as dry mouth. Generally caused by medications, this condition is more common in older adults. A dry mouth can be a breeding ground for bacteria, viruses, and fungi in the mouth, leading to oral health issues.
  • Root Decay: This issue is very common in older adults and is caused by exposure to acids in our foods and drinks. When tooth roots become exposed the gum tissue recedes from the tooth, making them prone to decay.
  • Denture-Induced Stomatitis: This can be a very painful issue for older adults and is caused by ill-fitting dentures. This condition causes an inflammation of the tissue under the dentures.
  • Blackened Teeth: As we age, the bone-like tissue called dentin, which underlines our teeth’s enamel, is transformed due to the food and drinks we consume. Staining and enamel thinning can cause the yellow dentin to show, darkening our teeth.
  • Tooth Loss and Uneven Jawbone: Severe cases of gum disease can lead to tooth loss, which, in turn, can cause our other teeth to drift apart and shift.

Thankfully, many of these issues can be avoided with regular dentist visits. Our McAllen dentists can address any areas of concern and can perform teeth cleanings, as well as a number of other dentistry services, to protect your oral health.

Major Illness Associated with Dental Health

Another reason oral health is of high importance for seniors is because it can indicate issues or symptoms related to other major diseases. Some of the diseases which are reflected in your dental health include:

  • Diabetes: Individuals with type 1 diabetes are at an increased risk of gum disease, thrush (mouth fungus), and dry mouth.
  • Heart Disease: People who suffer from gum disease are twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease or heart disease.
  • Oral Cancer: Your oral health can be the first indication of oral cancer; this type of cancer is strongly associated with smoking and tobacco use. Early detection can improve survival rate.
  • Pneumonia: Poor oral health has been linked to pneumonia in older adults.

It is believed our oral health is a reflection of our body’s overall health. Regular visits to the dentist are very important, especially as we age and our immune system slows down.

A quality oral care routine should include:

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
  • Flossing at least once a day.
  • Rinsing with antiseptic mouthwash once or twice a day.
  • Regularly visiting your dentist.

Trust WhiteWing Dental to help you get a healthy smile back at any age.

Contact WhiteWing Dental today in McAllen and La Feria to schedule a visit.

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