Senior’s Oral Health

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As a population, seniors have long been plagued by dental issues. Oftentimes, seniors’ oral health may deteriorate along with their teeth as they age.  We will discuss some of the most common issues with seniors’ teeth.

DRY MOUTH
The American Dental Association reports that dry mouth is the most common reason for cavities among seniors. Dry mouth is not a natural part of getting older; rather, it is a symptom of numerous medical conditions and the side effects of more than 500 medications, including those used to treat diabetes, stroke, oral thrush, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, HIV/AIDS, and other autoimmune disorders. A dry mouth can be caused by a number of factors, including snoring and mouth breathing.

The average person’s prescribed medication intake tends to rise as they become older. This causes many elderly people to have problems with dry mouth. Your dentist may inquire as to whether or not you are taking any drugs for this reason. If you suffer from dry mouth, we can recommend therapies to alleviate the discomfort and decrease the likelihood of cavities. Here are popular practices recommended by dentists:

  •  Hydrate yourself more
  •  Substitute dry-mouth-preventing drugs wherever feasible
  •  Make use of a soothing mouth rinse
  •  To increase saliva flow, try chewing sugar-free gum
  •  Run a humidifier
  •  Use lip balm
  •  Take advantage of fluoride therapy
  •  Try to abstain from caffeine and liquor
  •  Do not use any tobacco products
  •  Keep away from OTC decongestants and antihistamines
  •  Cut back on the sweets and processed meals (These increase the risk of tooth decay)
  •  Stay away from alcoholic mouthwashes

LOSS OF TEETH AND THE PROCESS OF DECAY
Seniors need to take extra care of their oral health because they have a higher risk of dental decay. Cavities in seniors’ teeth typically occur around the gum line or even under it. Dry mouth makes the elderly particularly vulnerable. Tooth decay is quite common, so even if it may not have been an issue in the past it is  important to practice good oral hygiene to reduce your risk. It is important to keep up with  dental checkups.  This enables us to check for the development of cavities and promptly fill them before they cause significant damage that necessitates more invasive measures, such as extraction.

GUM DISEASE
Another prevalent oral health issue among the over-60 crowd is gum disease, often called periodontal disease. Plaque bacteria irritate gums, causing them to become inflamed, red, and bleed easily. Comparatively speaking, the early stages of gum disease seldom cause much discomfort.  If left unchecked this condition may worsen over time.

Because gum disease is most effectively treated when discovered in its earliest stages, getting regular dental checkups as you age is just as crucial as it was when you were younger.

ORAL CANCER
Most individuals grossly underestimate how prevalent oral cancer actually is. Each year, more than 54,000 cases of oral cancer are identified, according to the American Cancer Society. The majority of these cases are patients over the age of 60.

Oral cancer screenings are routinely performed on patients during dental checkups.  In its early stages, oral cancer, like gum disease, seldom causes any discomfort. But it is essential to schedule and keep your dental appointments at Las Vegas Smile throughout your life, as early diagnosis can treat or eliminate any major issues.

OTHER DENTISTRY PROBLEMS
In addition to the aforementioned issues, the following are also frequently encountered by older citizens and their dentists

  • Discolored teeth
  • Lack of or diminished capacity for detecting flavors
  • Infection of the roots
  • Thrush
  • Stomatitis caused by wearing dentures
  • Misaligned jawbone
  • Tooth decay

Heart Disease & Poor Oral Health

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Studies show that pathogens from the mouth can infiltrate the bloodstream and cause blood clots and major cardiac issues.

A study that was published in 2018 with data from almost a million participants with over 65,000 cardiac events (such as heart attack) identified a significant link between poor dental health and coronary heart disease after accounting for age.  Therefore, is it important to see your Las Vegas Smile dentist at least twice a year.

How are heart disease and poor oral health connected?

  • -The bacteria responsible for gum disease and periodontal disease can spread to other parts of the body and inflame or even destroy the blood vessels. The result might be the formation of blood clots, which could lead to a heart attack or stroke. Evidence for this notion comes from the detection of oral bacteria spores in atherosclerotic blood arteries located in distant parts of the body.
  • -Inflammation, a natural part of the body’s immunological response to bacterial infection, triggers a chain reaction that damages blood vessels all over the body, including the heart and brain.
  • -Hypotheses suggest that lack of access to healthcare and inactivity are also possible causes. Oral and cardiovascular disease may be more prevalent among those who lack access to health care or who don’t prioritize their health.

According to an article from The Mayo Clinic, studies have shown:

  • -Inflammation of the gums, also known as periodontitis, has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • -Bacterial infections in the bloodstream can harm heart valves, and this risk is increased by poor oral health. Those who have had artificial heart valves may find that maintaining good oral hygiene is of utmost importance.
  • -Heart disease and tooth loss follow similar trends.
  • -Evidence suggests that patients with diabetes can benefit from periodontal care and that there is a link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

How it happens

Science Daily reports: A member of the Society for General Microbiology claims that bacteria that cause plaque in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and raise the risk of heart attack. Brushing and flossing regularly can keep mouth bacteria in check, but if you don’t, they can cause a lot of trouble, as explained by Professor Howard Jenkinson of the University of Bristol. According to him, “poor oral hygiene can cause bleeding gums, allowing bacteria to escape into the circulatory system, where they can create blood clots which can eventually result in heart disease.”

Plaque and gum issues are both caused by streptococcus bacteria, which thrive in the mouth in communities known as “biofilms.” The Streptococcus bacterium, once released into the circulatory system, can use a surface protein called PadA as a tool to push platelets in the blood to attach together and shape clots, as demonstrated by researchers at the University of Bristol who teamed up with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI)’s scientists.

Professor Jenkinson explains that bacteria utilize the formation of blood clots for their own selfish purposes. If the platelets clump together tight enough, they can trap the germs within. The immune system and any drugs used to treat an infection are both shielded from this, he explained. Platelet clumping, in addition to aiding the bacteria, can lead to growths on the heart valves (endocarditis), tiny blood clots, or blood artery inflammation that can cut off blood flow to the brain and heart.