LONGMEADOW, MA — Kids are always told to brush their teeth before bed. But, whether it is dentures or natural teeth, elderly members of the household should take just as much care, if not more, when it comes to oral hygiene.
Dr. Vincent Mariano, owner of Longmeadow dentistry center EMA Dental attests that there are several factors when considering senior citizens and oral hygiene. First, senior citizens experience natural changes to their teeth and gums as part of aging. Secondly, as there are side-effects to prescription drugs that can put an individual’s oral health in jeopardy.
However, diligent efforts to maintain oral health in the twilight of our lives can yield health benefits and ward off serious health problems.
“People are conditioned to brush and floss regularly from childhood, but people often don’t consider what happens when oral hygiene is neglected,” says Dr. Mariano. “But, whether it’s eating, drinking, smoking, or what have you, the mouth intercepts billions of bacteria cells in a lifetime. These foreign bodies contribute to damaging oral health as well as major health issues, so maintaining good oral hygiene is critical to oral and overall health.”
Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s, stroke, Sjogren’s Syndrome, and other major health issues can be avoided when good oral hygiene habits are kept as a senior and throughout the course of life as stated in the Consumer Guide to dentistry.
Some conditions the elderly experience that can be symptoms of greater problems include receding gums, sensitive teeth, and dry mouth. For each of these conditions, EMA Dental’s Longmeadow dentist, Dr. Mariano, suggests preventative and corrective treatments to keep senior citizen’s in top shape and enjoying life.
According to Best Dental Advice, this condition is a natural phase of life. Receding gums can contribute to tooth sensitivity as the tooth’s root becomes more exposed. Furthermore, without good hygiene habits, food particles and plaque will more easily harm a tooth’s root, which leads to tooth decay.
“Receding gums plays into one of the most essential practices of good oral hygiene,” says the Longmeadow general dentist. “Brushing at least twice per day and rinsing once is pivotal for senior citizens. There are special mouthwashes and toothpastes for patients that have sensitive teeth and receding gums, and elderly patients should consult their dentist at the first signs of receding gums to proactively adjust to this change.”
Sensitive teeth goes hand-in-hand with receding gums, but can occur without receding gums being a symptom. This condition can appear as a sensitivity to hot or cold food, or pressure from biting or brushing.
The Consumer Guide to Dentistry notes that tooth sensitive derives from the erosion of tooth enamel that protects dentin, grinding teeth, consuming acidic beverages and foods, root nerve damage, teeth whiteners, and even brushing too hard.
“Sensitive teeth can be a symptom of several other conditions, or it can be a condition itself,” notes Dr. Mariano. “Because of this, patients experience tooth sensitivity should seek treatment for thorough diagnosis.”
Special toothpastes and mouthwashes counter sensitive teeth and allow patients to keep regular hygiene habits without pain.
Dry mouth is one of the conditions that elderly patients will experience not because of natural aging or hygiene neglect, but as a repercussion of prescription medication. Unfortunately, if a prescription drug results in dry mouth, elderly individuals can experience a wide range of problems.
Because saliva contains bacteria that help keep the mouth clean, breaks down particles that cause plaque, and kills off foreign bacteria, dry mouth syndrome (xerostomia) can open the gateway for infection, cavities, and other systemic illnesses.
Adding to the importance of seeking a dentist for dry mouth, according to The Consumer Guide to Dentistry this illness can also be a symptom of diabetes, stroke, or Sjogren’s Syndrome to name a few.
“You would never know that saliva was such an important part of the body until it’s gone,” says Dr. Mariano. “But, try eating a bag of salty crackers and see how the mouth feels. It’s not fun, and the body is left wide open to foreign bodies.”
There are various ways to treat dry mouth syndrome. Chewing sugar-free candy, ingesting more fluids, using artificial saliva or special mouthwashes, sprays, or even prescription medications can all keep saliva flowing in the mouth and keep the body healthy.
For seniors who aren’t concerned with their adult teeth anymore, keeping clean dentures or other prosthodontics is just as important as taking care of what mother nature gives us.
“If there is tooth decay or tooth loss, elderly patients can greatly benefit from cosmetic dental work,” says Longmeadow cosmetic dentistry specialist Dr. Lisa Emirzian. “Keeping a natural bite with dentures or dental implants keeps the facial bone structure and musculature in tact, which preserves a healthier look.”
In addition to dentures or partial bridges, porcelain veneers, dental implants, and dental crowns are all great options when looking into teeth restoratives adds the Longmeadow porcelain veneers provider.
“They may be artificial, but they can look pretty real nowadays,” says Dr. Emirzian. “Patients feel as natural as ever wearing them, and they can turn the clock back quite a few years as well.”
To learn more about dental hygiene for seniors, visit EMA Dental’s Longmeadow dentistry center’s Web site: http://www.emadental.com/ for more information or to schedule a consultation at their Northampton or East Longmeadow locations. Or, if you would like to speak with an EMA Dental team member, call: 413-731-8800.
About EMA Dental
EMA Dental is a multi-specialty group dental practice committed to providing state-of-the-art dental care of the highest quality in a comfortable environment. Whether you are looking for routine dental care and maintenance, a complete smile makeover or removable or fixed tooth replacement, EMA Dental has all of the resources available to help you reach your goal. From the front desk where you will be taken care of by a highly qualified, compassionate administrative team to the clinic, where you will find an energetic, detail-oriented, highly-trained clinical assistant team and doctors that are second to none, we trust that your experience will exemplify our commitment to Excellence in Dentistry.
EMA Dental encourages each patient to involve themselves in their own treatment. Ask questions, and together with your doctor choose the treatment that is right for you! As a knowledgeable, informed, involved patient you are most likely able to achieve the highest level of dental health. We look forward to working with you in achieving your goals.
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