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Dental Health In Elderly


“Saliva keeps the mouth wet, which protects teeth from decay and prevents infection by controlling bacteria, viruses and fungi in the mouth; so having a dry mouth can pose a problem,” says Dr Heman Verma, a senior orthodontist of Dental Stylers

With age as the gums lose strength and other diseases in the body show up, including arthritis making it difficult for the aged to brush as effectively as before, the oral hygiene and related issues surface up.

SUBURB briefly takes its readers through the dental issues among the senior citizens-

1. Discolouration of teeth

Generally, discolouration happens with changes in dentin – the bone-like tissue that lies under the tooth enamel and by a lifetime of consuming stain-causing foods and beverages. Another reason attributed is thinning of the outer layer that lets the darker yellow dentin to show. Brushing and flossing twice a day can come to your rescue.

2. Dry mouth

Dry mouth is caused by reduced saliva flow which is common among the elderly and most times caused by the side effects of medicines. Chew sugar-free gum or limit your caffeine intake to stimulate the flow of saliva.

3. A Diminished sense of taste

While advancing age impairs the sense of taste, diseases as well as medications and dentures can also contribute to the loss of taste. With the help of thorough brushing and flossing, one can eliminate plaque from the mouth, protect the teeth from decay and help regain the full sense of taste.

4. Root decay

The tooth roots get exposed as the gum recedes from the tooth. Roots do not have enamel to protect them and are more prone to decay than the crown part of the tooth.

5. Gum diseases

Gum disease precipitates by plaque formation in the mouth and made worse by food left stuck in teeth. The use of tobacco products, poor-fitting bridges and dentures, poor diets and certain conditions such as anaemia, cancer and diabetes also adds to the problem.

6. Inflamed mucous membrane

Ill-fitting dentures, poor dental hygiene, or a build-up of the fungus can cause this condition where the tissue underlying a denture gets inflamed.

Tips for healthy oral hygiene
  • Brush at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste
  • Floss at least once a day
  • Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash once or twice a day

“The use of tobacco products, illfitted bridges and dentures, poor diet,and other bodily conditions as explained above may often become the reason of dental problems of older adults,’’ explains Dr Verma.

This article was first published in the print version of January 2020 issue.

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