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Senior Struggles: Dental Problems That Afflict The Elderly

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People go through many bodily changes as they grow older. Dental problems are one major issue for senior adults. There are several different reasons why people in this age group experience so many dental problems. Those reasons are discussed below, and solutions for each problem are also provided. Use this information to help treat your own dental problems or to assist an elderly loved one.

Dry Mouth And Subsequent Cavities

Senior adults often experience dry mouth, and this problem can occur due to several different factors. This unpleasant condition may be caused by:

  • prescription medications that seniors take – Some examples of medications that cause dry mouth include prescriptions for hypertension, pain management, and Parkinson's Disease.

  • medical conditions – Many illnesses and diseases that affect elderly people can cause dry mouth. Common culprits include Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Saliva production protects teeth from tooth decay. When dry mouth occurs, seniors are more likely to get painful cavities. Drinking more water or using a hydrating mouthwash may help reduce dry mouth.

Discomfort Or Difficulty When Eating

Tooth loss is an unfortunate but common part of aging. Many elderly people wear dentures to make chewing their food easier. However, dentures may not fit properly if they are old or they have been damaged over time. This can make eating very uncomfortable, and it may cause irritation in the mouth.

This also applies to seniors who have missing teeth but do not wear dentures. Without a full set of healthy teeth, thoroughly chewing food can be rather difficult. It may be beneficial to get dental implants or a set of new dentures to alleviate this problem. Family dentists provide these services to elderly patients in order to make eating a pleasant experience once again.

Gum Disease And Long-Term Effects

Periodontal or gum disease may become worse as people grow older. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to detect gum disease until pain or discomfort occurs. When pain is present, gum disease is often advanced and may have long-term effects. For example, weakened and diseased gums cannot provide adequate support for teeth. This may lead to bone loss or tooth loss for elderly individuals.

Periodontal disease may require treatment such as root planing and scaling, which is a procedure performed to thoroughly remove plaque and bacteria from the gum and bones.

What Can Be Done To Resolve These Issues?

To prevent and treat dental problems, it is beneficial to visit a family dentist. Family dentists offer services to patients of all ages, so they have experience in working with elderly individuals. Some services offered may include:

  • creating and providing dentures that fit comfortably

  • treatment of periodontal disease

  • information about proper at-home dental care for seniors

Whether you or someone you know experiences the dental issues above, seeking help from a family dentist, like Rupp and Grabowski Family Dentistry, is an ideal solution. Make sure to contact one in a timely manner, as dental problems can advance rapidly.