Dental care for older people
Advancing age puts many older people at risk of a number of oral health problems, such as the following:
- Darkened teeth. Caused, to some extent, by changes in dentin, the bone like tissue that underlies the tooth enamel, and by a lifetime of consuming stain-causing foods and beverages.
- Dry mouth. Dry mouth is caused by reduced saliva flow, which can be a result ofcancer treatments that use radiation to the head and neck area, as well as certain diseases, such as Sjögren’s syndrome, and medications.
- Diminished sense of taste. While advancing age impairs the sense of taste, diseases, medications and dentures can also contribute to this sensory loss.
- Root decay. This is caused by exposure of the tooth root to decay-causing acids. The tooth roots become exposed as gum tissue recedes from the tooth.
- Gum disease. Caused by plaque and made worse by food left in teeth, use of tobacco products, poor-fitting bridges and dentures, poor diets, and certain diseases, such as anaemia, cancer and diabetes, this is often a problem for older adults.
- Tooth loss. Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss.
- Uneven jawbone. This is caused by tooth loss
- Denture-induced stomatitis. Ill-fitting dentures, poor dental hygiene or a build-up of the fungus Candida albicans cause this condition, which is inflammation of the tissue underlying a denture.
- Thrush. Diseases or medicines that affect the immune system can trigger the overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans in the mouth.
- Age in and of itself is not a dominant or sole factor in determining oral health. However, certain medical conditions, such as arthritis in the hands and fingers, may make brushing or flossing teeth difficult to impossible to perform. Medication you may be taking can also affect your oral health and may make a change in your dental treatment necessary.