Oral Care For Seniors: Vital Considerations
Senior citizens tend to have more health problems than other age groups, so it important to monitor your health closely as you get older. One matter that you don't want to overlook is your oral health, as it's easy for dental problems to develop if you are not careful. This article examines some of the key issues related to oral health and aging.
Your oral health often has a strong relationship to your overall health. For instance, gum disease, or periodontal disease, has been shown by medical research to have a strong correlation to heart disease. Research shows that if you have periodontal disease, then you are at twice the risk for having a fatal heart condition. You may also face an increased risk for stroke. Another concern is the potential for bacteria from an infected tooth to spread to other parts of the body, such as the heart, and cause severe damage.
As an elderly person, you typically take more prescription and nonprescription medications than the average individual. In certain instances, this can cause issues with your oral health. For example, some medications, such as decongestants and drugs that reduce pain, can cause dry mouth. This condition reduces the amount of saliva in your mouth, which makes you more vulnerable to getting an oral infection. Because of this type of problem, it's important to monitor your medications for any side effects that may compromise your oral health.
For many elderly people, covering the cost of oral care is difficult because they have no health insurance or their coverage is not sufficient. One major issue in this regard is that Medicare does not cover dental expenses. Also, although Medicaid offers comprehensive dental coverage for children, many states do not offer this benefit for adults and the elderly. If you are having any trouble paying for the care you need, check with a local federally funded health clinic to see if they offer free or low-cost care. If you live near a dental school, they may offer low-cost care to residents.
One good idea for all seniors is to develop a good relationship with their dental hygienist. These trained professionals can give you excellent oral-care advice on issues such as proper dental care at home, the relationship between diet and nutrition and other matters. When consulting with your dental hygienist, make certain that you tell them about any underlying health conditions you may have, such as diabetes, and inform them of any medications you are taking.
Being elderly has various challenges, including maintaining your oral health. For more information, consult your dental hygienist or other dental care professional.