Taking care of our teeth is not usually on the top of our to-do list. But oral health makes a significant difference in our overall health, especially as we age.
How does oral health impact our overall health?
We know that good oral health means having a healthy mouth, but how does it affect our overall health? Issues like chronic dry mouth, root damage or decay and thrush can leave us open to infection and immune system impairment.
Issues in the mouth can also be symptomatic of overall health issues, not just the cause of them. Heart attack, stroke and high blood pressure can show symptomatic impacts upon our mouths and teeth.
Oral health issues for seniors
Poor cleaning habits and certain diseases like anemia, diabetes and cancer can leave us with gum disease. Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss.
Cancers of the moth are primarily a disease met by the older population. Good brushing and a life without tobacco will have an impact, no matter what age.
Underlying chronic disease
As previously mentioned, underlying conditions can cause issue with oral health:
Sores in your mouth that don’t heal should be looked after immediately, as the causes of this could vary. But when a sore doesn’t heal, it means that could be a number of things that are happening with your body that you should discuss with a doctor.
Things you can do to have great oral health habits
- “Chew sugarless candy or chewing gum containing xylitol to stimulate saliva production, especially if you have symptoms of dry mouth.
- Make an appointment with a dentist if you have symptoms of chronic dry mouth.
- Brush your teeth every day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Use an electric or battery-operated toothbrush, especially if you have problems thinking or making decisions (or if you care for someone who lives with these concerns).
- Floss your teeth every day. Using floss holders may be helpful for people with stiff hands.
- Ask your dentist about prescription-strength fluoride mouth rinses and fluoride varnishes if you have a history of tooth decay.
- Ask your dentist about using a mouthwash containing chlorhexidine if you have gum disease or are at risk for gum disease.
- All older adults should have a dental cleaning performed by a dental hygienist and an oral health assessment by their dentist at least twice a year.
- If you have replacement heart valves or prosthetic joints, you need to be particularly careful about your oral hygiene to prevent the risk of serious infections. Ask your medical provider or dentist about steps you should take before you have your teeth cleaned or undergo any dental procedures.”
Brushing our teeth and going to the dentist on a regular basis are two of the easiest things we can do to maintain or improve our health, both oral and general. Let your smile show!
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