WHY IS DENTAL CARE SO IMPORTANT FOR THE SENIOR COMMUNITY?

Respiratory Health

 

One of the most important reasons oral care is important for seniors is respiratory health. According to many studies over the past twenty years, definite associations exist between oral/dental care and pneumonia in long-term care facilities. Daily oral hygiene combined with regular professional dental care can help reduce the number of patients that develop pneumonia.

According to a Systematic Review of the Association Between Respiratory Disease and Oral Health, published in the Journal of Peridontology in 2006 by Azarpazhooh A. and Leake J.L.:

“There is good evidence (I, grade A recommendation) that improved oral hygiene and frequent professional oral health care reduces the progression or occurrence of respiratory diseases among high-risk elderly adults living in nursing homes.”

To further understand the importance of oral care for seniors, the affects of aging on the mouth must be considered:

Emphasis on dental care over the past decades has resulted in many seniors keeping their teeth longer.  However there are many conditions associated with the aging process that affect our oral health:

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Changes in dexterity affect a person’s ability to maintain oral health.
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Many medical conditions and medications cause chronic dry mouth (Xerostomia) which results in discomfort and rampant cavities.
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Conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia affect the ability of caregivers to provide consistent, quality oral hygiene.

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Difficulty swallowing results in food pocketing which increases the prevalence of tooth decay.
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Oral cancer risks increase with age.

**Even patients that no longer have their teeth (edentulous) are in need of regular dental exams and care:**

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Challenges with keeping dentures clean can result in aspiration of build-up that dislodges from the dentures.
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Not keeping dentures and the mouth clean causes chronic infections of the mouth (including Candidiasis or yeast) causing pain and discomfort.

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Poorly fitting dentures can cause intesnsely painful sore spots and difficulty eating.

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