You probably know by now that your oral health is connected to your overall health. But, do you know how oral health care for the elderly can lead to disease in old age?
Researchers have found that the bacteria and inflammation in your teeth and gums are linked to heart disease, diabetes, and even dementia. That’s right, dental plaque and dementia could be linked!
Dental Plaque and Dementia
When sticky plaque on your teeth combine with sugars, the bacteria release acid that attacks your tooth’s enamel. Plaque buildup can lead to gum disease, gingivitis, and heart disease. If left untreated, severe gum disease can develop. If that occurs, the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth and allows bad bacteria to destroy the underlying bone. This compromises everything that supports your teeth.
Experts believe that oral bacteria can escape into the bloodstream and damage major organs, like the heart and brain.
Gum disease has also been found to increase the risk of dementia later in life. Researchers have found that periodontal problems may also be associated with milder cognitive impairment, such as memory problems. This can make activities of daily life, like brushing teeth, more difficult.
While the findings show no direct correlation between dental plaque and dementia, it did show that “people who had chronic gum inflammation for 10 or more years were 70 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those without periodontitis.”
Oral Health Care for the Elderly
So, how can you make to focus on good oral health care for the elderly?
Maintain a Good Routine — If you’re able, make sure to keep up on a proper oral hygiene routine, which includes brushing at least twice a day for 2 minutes each time, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist for regular checkups.
Budget Wisely— Make sure to set some money aside for annual visits to your health providers, including your dentist.
Solicit Help — Caregivers can make sure that seniors make it to regular dental visits and keep up a proper oral hygiene routine. They are also particularly helpful to seniors with mobility issues. They can help brush, floss, and rinse with mouthwash. In addition, caregivers can prepare foods that promote good oral and overall health.
Live in a managed home? Collaboration between dentists and facilities allows seniors to receive treatment and regular dental checkups. This eliminates the need to travel to and from the dentist’s office and helps patients feel more comfortable.
Whether considering in-home care, moving into a care facility, or still rocking independent life at home, proper oral health care for the elderly is vital to having a healthy body.