Aging and Poor Oral Health

As a result of awareness and improvements in community oral health care,  and general health over the last 50 years, older adults in Australia now enjoy higher tooth retention rates than seniors in the past. But keeping everything on track can be increasingly difficult over time. This is why great daily oral healthcare and hygiene is so essential at this life stage as well as keeping up with your regular professional cleaning every six months Older adults can be more susceptible to oral disease than younger adults. They are at higher risk of gum disease and other dental complications. The immune system can weaken with age and reduce the ability to fight and recover from infection.  Of particular importance is decreased salivary gland function and dry mouth which can increase their susceptibility to tooth decay and other mouth. infections Poor oral health affects older adults’ general health, well-being and lifestyle. When an older adult experiences poor oral health, it may affect a number of other areas in their life, and in some cases, have a domino effect of negative health consequences.  An older adult with oral conditions may experience the following health outcomes:

  • Halitosis (bad breath) may become a barrier to social participation leading to increased social isolation and loneliness.
  • Dry mouth caused by decreased salivary gland  function and quite a large number of  medications can lead to higher levels of oral bacteria, plaque and disease.
  • High levels of oral bacteria can cause aspiration pneumonia which is the leading cause of death (from infection) in frail older adults.
  • Gum disease & poor oral health has been linked to older adults having a higher risk of developing and/or complicating health conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
  • Pain and jaw-related difficulties, such as TMJ, can limit chewing efficiency which can result in poor nutritional intake, digestive issues and reduced overall body health, weight, energy and strength.

 

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