A lifetime of use can take its toll on your loved one’s teeth. Some dental issues that your loved one may be facing include tooth pain, bleeding or inflamed gums, or even gum infection. It is important to treat these issues straightaway to prevent any further complications. Here, we list 4 common dental issues in the elderly to be wary of.
Tooth decay can result in cavities, which are painful and can cause infection and possibly even a loss of teeth. Tooth decay is typically caused when tartar and plaque builds up in the mouth. This build-up can be a result of many things, such as a diet rich in sugary foods, a slowdown in saliva production and having too many snacks. Some medical issues such as arthritis and dementia can also make it difficult for your loved ones to brush their teeth.
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is caused by the bacteria found in tartar and plaque. This issue can also be exacerbated by smoking. Characteristic to the later stages of gum disease are gums that are red and bleeding. You can also keep a lookout for gingivitis, caused by a build-up of bacteria where the teeth meet gum tissue and resulting in inflamed gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, a serious gum infection that can severely affect both gum tissue and the bone supporting the teeth.
Luckily, gum disease can be both prevented and treated with proper dental hygiene, which includes flossing, brushing your teeth daily, and making regular visits to the dentist.
Gums can shrink gradually from the teeth, and this phenomenon is usually caused by poor dental hygiene and gum disease. Factors that could also increase the likelihood of receding gums include smoking, genetics, and teeth grinding.
As the root of the tooth becomes more exposed, teeth can become more sensitive and their appearance may lengthen. If left untreated, this condition results in damaged oral tissues and a higher chance of tooth loss and gum disease.
As we age, it is common to have decreased saliva production. This is known as xerostomia, or dry mouth, and it is a side effect of many other medications. A reduction in saliva production can unfortunately result in a build-up of sugar and acids in the mouth. This leads to a further chance of cavities and can also result in dry and cracked lips and a swollen tongue, which can cause difficulty in speaking or swallowing. If your loved one is experiencing dry mouth, encourage them to drink water regularly and decrease their intake of sugary food and drink. To increase saliva production, they can chew on gum and lozenges, while adding a mouth rinse to their dental routine can help prevent acid build-up.
Combatting Dental Issues
With dental issues, prevention is better than cure. Encourage your loved one to adjust to a healthy diet and to practice dental hygiene to prevent further complications. If your loved one is suffering from memory-related diagnoses, such as dementia, they may find it difficult to keep up with their daily hygiene routine. In such cases, memory care might be a good option. If your loved one enjoys an independent lifestyle but needs some assistance in their day-to-day activities, consider assisted living instead.