The Importance of Dental Care For the Elderly

As we age, our teeth may weaken, leading to an increased risk of developing oral health problems. For this reason, prioritising dental care for the elderly is crucial to maintaining good oral health.  

At Staina House Dental Practice, our dentists are incredibly professional by nature, providing outstanding levels of care in a calm, relaxing environment. If you’re an elderly patient or a relative of an older adult who’s feeling apprehensive about attending a dental check-up, let us ease your concerns. Our patients benefit from continuity of care, seeing the same dentist on each visit. To find out more about our caring, friendly dental clinic, please get in touch. Call us on 01995 605707 to speak to one of our helpful, experienced team members today. 

Common Dental Problems in the Elderly 

A lifetime of grinding and chewing, combined with existing problems and a potential decrease in care, can cause an increase in dental problems in the elderly. Some of the most common dental issues to watch out for as an older adult include: 

  • Gum Disease – An infection that harms the soft tissue surrounding the teeth, this condition is typically linked to inflammation when identified in older individuals. It can range from gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) to more severe periodontitis (gum infection leading to tooth loss).
  • Tooth Decay – Older adults are still susceptible to tooth decay, particularly if their diet is high in sugar. As we age, tooth brushing can also become difficult and painful, making the build-up of plaque and tartar hard to avoid.
  • Tooth Sensitivity – Ageing can lead to gum recession, exposing tooth roots and causing sensitivity to food and drinks. 
  • Dry Mouth – Many individuals experience decreased saliva production later in life. A build-up of sugar and acids can result in increased tooth decay. It can also lead to dry, cracked lips. 
  • Denture Problems – A large majority of older adults wear dentures, which can cause issues if they don’t fit well or aren’t cleaned properly. 
  • Diabetes – When managed poorly, diabetes can make the management of infection and gum disease more difficult.

 What Are the Benefits of Prioritising Elderly Dental Care Needs? 

Dental care for the elderly is crucial to ensure a better quality of life and overall well-being. Attending regular check-ups can help to prevent and address common dental issues, including gum disease and tooth decay. 

Additional benefits of prioritising elderly dental care needs include: 

  • Improved Quality Of Life

Good oral health allows older individuals to eat comfortably, speak clearly and smile with confidence, significantly improving their overall well-being. Regular dental visits allow for the early detection and prevention of common oral health issues, reducing any pain and discomfort. 

With proper care, elderly patients can retain their natural teeth for longer, allowing for better oral function and increased self-esteem and confidence. 

  • Prevention of Systemic Health Issues

Poor oral health has been linked to various systemic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and respiratory infections. Attending regular dental check-ups will allow dentists to identify oral health issues in their early stages. 

By addressing these problems quickly, the risk of bacteria from the mouth entering the bloodstream and contributing to systemic health issues is reduced. 

  • Reduced Pain and Discomfort

Treating dental problems swiftly and in the most appropriate manner can prevent pain and discomfort associated with issues like cavities, gum disease and tooth sensitivity. 

During your consultation, dentists can provide valuable guidance on oral hygiene and care, tailored to your needs. This education can assist elderly patients in maintaining their oral health at home, reducing the risk of developing pain and discomfort. 

  • Preservation of Natural Teeth

Regular cleanings and early intervention can help to retain natural teeth for a longer period, improving overall oral function.

Intended to eliminate the accumulation of plaque and tartar, dental cleanings doesn’t just enhance the visual look of your teeth, they can also ward off the onset of cavities and gum disease. 

  • Enhanced Nutrition

Prioritising elderly dental care needs can help individuals maintain healthy teeth and gums. This, in turn, ensures they can chew and bite effectively, making it easy to consume an array of foods, including those that require slightly more effort to chew. 

For patients who wear dentures, regular check-ups can ensure they fit properly and are in good condition. Ill-fitting dentures can lead to discomfort and difficulty finishing a meal. 

  • Early Detection of Oral Cancer

During routine dental check-ups, dentists often perform oral cancer screenings as part of the examination. They look for signs and symptoms of cancer, including unusual growths and sores in the mouth, lips or throat. With access to the latest specialised tools and equipment, dentists can help to identify abnormalities at an early stage, taking a proactive approach to increase the chances of a successful outcome. 

  • Cost-Savings

By detecting issues at an early stage, problems are often easier and less expensive to treat. 

Dental problems left untreated can lead to complications that are not only painful, but are also incredibly costly to address. For example, a cavity left untreated can progress to a root canal, a problem that is much more expensive to treat than a simple filling. 

Dental Tips For the Elderly 

Now we’ve discussed the importance of dental care for the elderly, let’s take a look at some of our top tips for maintaining a healthy smile between appointments. 

  1. Brush Your Teeth with a fluoride toothpaste – We recommend using fluoride toothpaste and a toothbrush that won’t damage the enamel and gums.
  2. Use Dental Floss and Mouthwash – Don’t forget to brush your tongue for a complete clean!
  3.  Drink Plenty of Water – Hydrating yourself properly will increase the production of saliva, reducing your likelihood of developing a dry mouth. 
  4. Treat Any Sores That Appear – This will prevent the injury from worsening.
  5. Cut Down on Sugary Food and Drinks – Lowering your intake of sweet treats will prevent tooth decay and help to improve your overall health. 

Visit Staina House Dental Practice 

Good oral health is a critical part of elderly people’s health care. In addition to dental care at home, older adults should visit their dentist on a regular basis. At Staina House Dental Practice, we’re dedicated to delivering comprehensive, quality dental care for the elderly in a welcoming environment. 

As we get older, visiting the dentist can become more of a challenge. That’s why we prioritise good communication and convenience, whether you’re booking an appointment over the phone or sitting in our comfortable waiting room. We also provide wheelchair access, including an accessible toilet, ground-floor surgeries for dental and dental hygiene and one disabled parking bay. To book a consultation, please get in touch. Give us a call on 01995 605707 and speak to one of our friendly advisors today.

T: 01995 605707