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The Importance of Oral Health Protection for Older Adults

The Importance of Oral Health Protection for Older Adults

2023-09-20

Maintaining oral health needs to be closely linked to overall health. As an important component of overall health, oral health is vital to the quality of life of older adults. Dental caries and periodontal disease are bacterial infections that can be detrimental to systemic health if left untreated.


At the same time, systemic diseases can also have an impact on oral health, and some systemic diseases can manifest themselves in the mouth. For example, there is a close interaction between diabetes and periodontal disease. Therefore, we need to focus on oral health care and actively treat systemic diseases.


For older adults, maintaining a healthy mouth requires consistent brushing and choosing the right interdental cleaning tools. As long as the elderly still retain their own teeth, they should brush their teeth every morning and evening, and it is especially important to brush at night before going to bed. Be careful not to brush horizontally with force when brushing, so as not to cause damage to the teeth and gums.


Older people also need to choose the right interdental cleaning tools according to the size of the gaps between their teeth. For people with inconspicuous gaps under the gums of their teeth, flossing is an option. For people with noticeable gaps underneath their teeth, use an interdental cleaning brush and choose the right model based on the size of the gap. Don't force your way into the gaps when using it to avoid irritating your gums.


For seniors who use dentures, they need to be thoroughly cleaned every day. Whether they are dental implants, fixed dentures or removable dentures, they need to be cleaned and maintained just like natural teeth. For dental implants and fixed dentures, which cannot be removed, food debris and bacteria can linger around them and need to be brushed and cleaned with the aid of interdental cleaning tools and rinsers, for example. The movable dentures need to be removed and cleaned after every meal, cleaned with a soft-bristled brush and then rinsed with water and put back on. Before going to bed, the movable dentures should be immersed in cold water or soaked in a denture cleaner and then rinsed with water and put back on the next day after waking up in the morning.


Elderly teeth are susceptible to root surface caries, which is due to gum recession, exposure of tooth roots, reduced salivary secretion and inadequate cleaning. In order to prevent root surface caries, we can choose the method of topical fluoride, such as using fluoride toothpaste to brush the teeth, and regularly go to the hospital for dental fluoride coating, etc.; at the same time, we can control the intake and frequency of sweets, and eat more fresh vegetables and fruits. If root surface caries occurs, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.


Periodontal disease is the main cause of tooth loss. If the teeth are not cleaned properly, plaque will accumulate in the mouth, and over time, the gums will become inflamed and the alveolar bone will resorb, leading to loosening and eventual loss of teeth. If the elderly have problems such as red and swollen gums, bad taste in the mouth, loose and shifting teeth, they should be alerted and seek timely medical attention to actively treat periodontal diseases and try to retain their natural teeth.


When the elderly have teeth that cannot be retained, they should be extracted in time, such as residual crowns, roots, or teeth that are particularly loose. Otherwise, the oral function will be affected in the less serious cases, and in the more serious cases, systemic infection may be caused, which in turn affects the quality of life. At the same time, the elderly also need timely restoration after tooth loss to maintain the integrity of the dentition and restore basic oral function. Generally, restorative treatment is performed within 2-3 months after tooth extraction. Methods of restoring missing teeth include active restorations, fixed restorations and implant restorations.


Older adults also need to pay attention to oral mucosal changes in their oral health care to prevent oral cancer. Older adults are at a high risk of developing oral mucosal diseases, so they should pay close attention to changes in the oral mucosa. If there are ulcers in the mouth that cannot heal for more than two weeks, hard nodules, white or red patches and other abnormal manifestations in the oral mucosa, it is necessary to consult a doctor in time. If the oral mucosa is subjected to long-term adverse stimulation or has a tobacco or alcohol habit, it may lead to the occurrence of oral leukoplakia or even oral cancer. Therefore, we should prevent it at an early stage by quitting the habit of smoking and drinking and not chewing betel nut.


For the elderly, the prevalence of oral diseases is high, the development is fast and the self-repairing ability is weak. Therefore, the elderly need to undergo oral health check-ups at least once a year and it is recommended that they have their teeth cleaned once a year. This is conducive to early detection and early treatment of oral diseases. Doctors will also take appropriate preventive measures according to specific circumstances to prevent the occurrence and development of oral diseases.

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