The Link between Oral Health and Overall Health

As we grow into senior years, dental well-being is often an overlooked component of general health. In truth, dental health is linked and fundamental to the rest of your body’s functions. Mouth complications can cause immediate problems like oral pain, trouble speaking, and difficulty eating and swallowing. Additionally, research has shown a strong association between poor dental health and other serious conditions, including: heart disease, diabetes, mouth cancer, pneumonia and stroke. [1] Understanding the connection between dental hygiene and overall health is the first step to protecting yourself from conditions and diseases.

 

Research has shown a strong association between poor dental health and other serious conditions, including: heart disease, diabetes, mouth cancer, pneumonia and stroke.

 

Senior Health Tips

Practicing good dental hygiene habits, you can stay healthy, happy and improve your quality of life. Here are some tips that you can start doing right away.

  • – Brush with fluoride toothpaste. Brush twice a day. Use a circular motion, a soft bristle brush and take time along the gum line.
  • – Floss once a day. If you experience difficulty with arthritis pain, ask someone for help.
  • – Visit the dentist regularly. Schedule your appropriate cleanings and exams.
  • – Use an antibacterial mouth rinse. This will help reduce bacteria that can cause decay.
  • – Clean dentures daily. Be sure to use a with denture specific cleaner.
  • – Remove dentures every night. At least one every 24 hours to keep lining healthy.
  • – Drink water with fluoride.
  • – Quit smoking.
  • – Caregivers should reinforce hygiene routines. For those who are unable to perform oral care activities independently.

 

Dry Mouth Tips

Many seniors take prescriptions and over the counter drugs, several of which can cause dry mouth, also known as xerostomia. Dry mouth can have a negative impact on oral health due to the reduction of saliva flow.  Saliva contains essential antimicrobial components that help rebuild tooth enamel. Saliva can also prevent infections by controlling bacteria in the mouth. With many seniors experiencing frequent dry mouth, they are placed at a higher risk of oral disease and infections, including: gingivitis, tooth decay and thrush.

If you are experiencing dry mouth, learn what you can do to help stay more comfortable and minimize your risk of oral complications.

  • – Use over the counter spray, mouthwash, or artificial saliva substitute.
  • – Consult physician to alter medication dosage.
  • – Drink plenty of water.
  • – Use sugar free gum and lozenges.
  • – Avoid coffee, alcohol, soft drinks, acidic juices.
  • – Use fluoride gel treatment

 

Dental Select offers senior plans that are tailored to fit your dental needs.  To learn more, click here.

 

 

 

[1] “Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body.” American Dental Association. April 2006. <http://jada.ada.org>

 

 

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