Oral health has long been known to be linked to overall physical health. Keeping up with regular dental visits is critical in ensuring a healthy body. Seniors and the elderly, though, are even more prone to risks stemming from untreated dental concerns. Ignoring those concerns can lead to emergencies that could be prevented.
Many older adults think they don’t have to keep up with oral health as much. But the opposite is true. Getting older poses more challenges for your whole body, including your teeth and mouth. Here’s why proper oral care is so important in the elderly.
Deadly infections can arise: Letting cavities go or ignoring a toothache can have dangerous consequences. Infection can set in, which can lead to pneumonia in the elderly. It can also lead to heart disease, root decay and gum disease. Get yourself or your elderly loved one to the emergency dentist if you experience swelling, redness or pain in the mouth.
Risk of disease: Failure to take care of your teeth can lead to elevated blood sugar levels, which can result in diabetes. An infection in the mouth is especially dangerous, as it can easily carry bacteria to your lungs or heart.
Dry mouth: This is a common affliction in the elderly but it’s more than just an annoyance. Many seniors take medications that sap their mouths of saliva. However, saliva is necessary for protecting the teeth and preventing infections. When that saliva is no longer plentiful, gum diseases and cavities can easily develop. Malnutrition can also result, as many seniors with dry mouth don’t feel like eating.
Gum disease: Nearly 25 percent of older adults between the ages of 65 and 74 suffer from severe gum disease. Not only does this condition alone threaten health, it can carry disease to other parts of the body.
Oral cancer: The first red flag for oral cancer is a sore in the mouth that never seems to heal. You are at greater risk for this if you smoke or chew tobacco. Early detection is key for survival.
Hypertension: Infections raise blood pressure. Keep on top of regular dental hygiene to stop infections before they start. Stay in touch with your primary care doctor as well to ensure your blood pressure medication is set at the proper dose.
If you, or the senior in your life, have a dental issue that needs to be addressed right away before it spirals out of control, don’t hesitate to call Redwood Dental at 800-462-2222.