The Importance of Dental Hygiene for Seniors

October is National Dental Hygiene Month. Most of us know that eating healthy and exercising are important as we get older, but less of us look to brushing our teeth and flossing as a big impact on our overall health. However, the link between dental health and overall health is an important one, so regular brushing, flossing, and dental appointments are extremely important. In this article we’ll go over the importance of dental hygiene for seniors.

Tooth Decay and Loss are probably the problems we’re most familiar with when it comes to dental hygiene, but it bears repeating. If you’re not practicing healthy dental habits, bacteria in your mouth can create plaque, which can damage your tooth enamel and cause cavities. Older adults are at increased risk of cavities because of dry mouth due to certain medications, asthma, and even high blood pressure. 

Gum Disease is very common in seniors with approximately two in three people over 65 suffering from the issue. If gum disease is severe enough, it can cause sore and bleeding gums, chewing problems, and tooth loss. Gum disease doesn’t usually have many symptoms until it’s too late, so take care of your teeth and visit the dentist regularly to help prevent this issue.

Heart Disease being related to dental care may sound like a stretch, but it’s true. Gum disease can cause inflammation, and this can actually increase your risk of heart disease. If you already have heart conditions, gum disease can make them worse and may also increase your risk of stroke. 

Diabetes causes a higher risk of dental problems, like inflammation and gum disease. Too much sugar in your saliva helps bacteria to grow in your mouth, so it’s even more important to take care of your teeth in you struggle with diabetes. 

Pneumonia is a big issue for seniors, and if you have poor dental hygiene, it can increase your risk of bacterial pneumonia. This risk is increased even more if you smoke. This link is caused by bacteria in your mouth traveling to your lungs when you breathe. 

Oral Cancer affects people over the age of 65 more than other age groups. If you smoke or use tobacco products, this can increase your risk, but regular dentist appointments can help to catch any issues early.