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Seniors: Why You Need To Make Dental Health A Priority

Seniors: Why You Need To Make Dental Health A Priority

As a person ages, attention to health becomes even more important. Although many people are aware of this, oral health and physical health may seem to be two separate topics, when the reality is that each one affects the other. Your oral health is related to your overall health, and dental-related issues can:

  • Impact other aspects of health
  • Indicate other underlying health concerns
  • React to medications taken for other conditions 

Not properly maintaining your oral health can contribute to a myriad of health issues.

Seniors With Poor Oral Care Are At A Higher Risk Of Developing:

  • Tooth Decay. Saliva helps protect teeth from cavities by washing away food particles that are left in the mouth. Many seniors lose this benefit of saliva due to dry mouth, a common side effect of many medications, including medications for high cholesterol, allergies or asthma, high blood pressure, pain, anxiety or depression, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s, to name only a few .
  • Gum Disease. The main two types of gum disease are gingivitis, which causes painful, swollen gums, and periodontitis, which leads to infected pockets of bacteria. Plaque is a common cause of gum disease, but gum disease can also be caused by diabetes, smoking, poor oral hygiene, cancer, or dry mouth. Periodontitis, the more severe form of gum disease, can lead to bleeding and sore gums, tooth loss, chewing problems, and more. Gum disease is often painless until it is in the advanced stages, so many seniors are unaware that they have it unless they go for a dentist appointment. Regular dental checkups are the optimal way to detect and treat gum disease.
  • Tooth Loss. Although tooth loss can be part of the aging process, a lifetime of proper dental hygiene will prolong the life of your natural teeth. When people grind their teeth, called bruxism, and it is not prevented using a nightguard, the pressure put on their teeth over time can damage teeth. Another common reason for tooth loss is gum disease, where the gums recede and more of the tooth is exposed, leading to more cavities and tooth decay.
  • Diabetes. When diabetes is not properly managed, it can lead to higher levels of glucose (sugar) in the saliva, which limits one of the main functions of saliva; to rinse food particles and sugars from the mouth. Since the mouth has constant glucose exposure, bacteria can easily form and cause gum disease, cavities, and tooth loss. Gum disease and high blood sugar levels are also closely linked because diabetes causes blood vessel changes that limit the flow of nutrients and the removal of wastes. This leads to weakened gums and bones, increasing the risk of infection.
  • Heart Disease. The correlational relationship between inflammation of the blood vessels within the gums and the inflammation that leads to the hardening of arteries indicates that either gum disease is partially due to heart health or heart health is affected by gum disease. Although it has not yet been conclusively determined which it is, many health professionals agree there is a relationship between the two. There is evidence suggesting that disrupting layers of the gums, which are filled with blood vessels, can lead to bacteria in the bloodstream, which can trigger inflammation in other areas, particularly the heart.
  • Pneumonia. As you breathe, bacteria from the mouth can travel into the lungs, putting those with poor oral hygiene at risk, particularly smokers. Medication side effects can also contribute to the development of aspiration pneumonia.
  • Cancer. Oral cancer is very common amongst seniors who do, or who used to, regularly smoke or heavily drink. Oral cancer can also be related to HPV or immune system suppression.

Top Quality Senior Dental Care At Marlborough Dental in NE Calgary

Dental care for seniors is vitally important, as people will begin to experience the symptoms of oral health conditions that may have been formerly undiagnosed, and new dental health issues due to aging and new medications. Proper senior dental care allows for prolonged life of natural teeth, reduced pain and discomfort, and prevention of progressive existing health issues. At Marlborough Dental in NE Calgary, our dentists have over 20 years of experience working in family dentistry, including working with senior patients to help them achieve and maintain healthy teeth and gums. To book a comprehensive dental exam in Calgary, contact Marlborough Dental at 1-403-248-2066 or fill out the online contact form.


Q: What are healthy gums supposed to look like?
A: Your gums should be pink, firm, and free from pain. If you do not floss regularly, gums may bleed and swell. Flossing regularly will prevent gums from bleeding when flossing and will improve gum health.

Q: What are the benefits of good senior dental care?
A: Other than protecting your oral health and general health, good dental care also 

  • Maintains your ability to eat and speak comfortably
  • Improves your overall health, avoiding oral conditions that can trigger systemic disease
  • Increases your self-confidence with a beautiful, full, and healthy smile
  • Detects or prevents serious conditions early on, such as oral cancer
  • Enhances your facial muscle tone and appearance by maintaining the underlying structures like jaw and teeth

Q: How do I keep my teeth healthy as I age?
A: Continue with proper oral health habits:

  • Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste once in the morning and once at night
  • Floss teeth before brushing
  • Watch for signs of gum disease, such as bleeding gums after brushing
  • Avoid tobacco or heavy drinking
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Regularly drink water
  • Go to the dentist every six months for a dental exam and cleaning
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