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The Importance of Dental Work for Seniors

June 5, 2013

Dental work starts right from infancy, continues through life, and peaks again for seniors.  The effects of aging have a direct impact on tooth health.  Alongside the important habits of brushing and flossing regularly, seniors have the added responsibility of taking care of their teeth in light of diminishing bone density.  Being part of the skeleton teeth are affected as bone density decreases with age.  Although one can manage the extent of this degeneration through food with tooth-building nutrients including calcium and magnesium rich foods, the effects are not completely surmountable. 

 

 

Cosmetic Appeal of Teeth and Old Age

One of the primary uses of teeth besides biting into and chewing food is preserving the attractive appearance of the face.  As people age, certain life habits catch up with them and the effects start to be obvious at a glance.  Smokers for instance may not have significantly yellowed teeth in their twenties or in their thirties.  However, past their forties and into their fifties and the yellowing of teeth from years of smoking becomes obvious. 

 

If one lost several teeth to dental extractions in their youth, the slackening of the cheeks may not be obvious until they enter into their fifties and beyond.  With aging the skin starts to lose its elasticity and the open gaps in the gums collapse, making the individual appear much older than their true age.  To retain the cosmetic appeal in old age, it requires more dental work. 

 

 

Susceptibility to Infections with Aging

As people grow older, what was initially a slight accumulation of plaque here and there on the teeth because of the individuals brushing habits, easily becomes a site for increased bacterial activity.  Other factors such as reduced immunity due to medication from a prevalent condition may aggravate this heightened bacterial activity. 

Different medicines dispensed to combat illnesses common with advanced age as some forms of cancer, diabetes, and hypertension, can compromise the body’s immune system.  The reduced immunity will give the accumulation of bacteria an opportunity to thrive making the senior more prone to tooth decay and gum disease.  It therefore comes highly recommended that seniors get dental care more often to combat infections before they become too severe. 

 

 

Other Opportunistic Effects of Aging

Although a senior may have the best tooth hygiene, brushing and flossing their teeth regularly, and keeping to dental appointments, dental work from their more youthful days can be healthy sites for opportunistic bacterial activity.  For instance, a person who has worn a denture for years may have a regular style of brushing and cleaning their teeth.  However, as the years go by, they develop comfort with the denture.  They therefore clean them in a certain way and often forget to remove the denture to clean the hidden spots it in the mouth. 

With time, those sites they never reach could be the sites at which infections start.  Seniors ought to clean out the area below a complete denture thoroughly as often as one remembers.  This is in addition to routine cleaning of the teeth.  A filled cavity that previously only required an annual check up might require frequent check in old age to keep any bacteria at bay.    

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