The aging process begins to affect all body systems and organs beginning in a person's 20s. This process especially impacts the teeth and gums by reducing the ability of the mouth to fight against the destructiveness of anaerobic bacteria. Although senior oral health care is often neglected due to more debilitating health issues that emerge as we age, this particular kind of oral health care is now receiving the attention it needs and deserves due to recent research results revealing the negative effects that poor oral health has on the health of seniors.
Dentists now know that a correlation between heart disease and poor oral health exists because bacteria associated with gingivitis, plaque, tooth decay and even bad breath can infiltrate the bloodstream and find their way to heart arteries where plaque (cholesterol) deposits cling to arterial inner walls. The aggressive activity of oral bacteria could dislodge these plaque deposits from these walls, causing the formation of blood clots that may eventually lead to a heart attack. Additionally, these displaced plaque deposits can create hypertensive conditions conducive to the emergence of heart disease and heart failure.
Immune System Factor on Senior Oral Health.
Immune system functioning also experiences attrition as a person ages, allowing diseases that were once quickly attacked by white blood cells and eliminated from the body to remain, strengthen and cause health issues that are not as easily remedied as they were at a younger age. Oral diseases comprise this list of health problems frequently suffered by seniors who had never before experienced problems with tooth decay and gum disease.
Decades of wear and tear produced by chewing, grinding, biting and eating sugary foods will naturally erode tooth enamel and abrade sensitive mouth tissues. Teeth also darken as we age because the enamel's outer layer wears away to reveal dentin, the tooth's middle area that is naturally yellow in color. Years of drinking coffee and tea, taking certain medications or smoking cigarettes can also discolor teeth.
Medication Affect on Senior Oral Health.
Many of the medications taken by senior citizens cause dry mouth, a condition that is often the origin of bad breath, tooth decay and gingivitis in the elderly. Without a sufficient saliva flow hydrating the mouth, anaerobic bacteria that are directly responsible for most oral health problems are allowed to proliferate and erode teeth and gums as well as produce severe halitosis. Click here to learn more about Dry Mouth.
In addition to older people experiencing an increase in oral diseases, the expense of going to the dentist to receive necessary dental work is more than most seniors can afford. As a consequence of missing dental appointments due to the high cost of treatment, many seniors have to do without professional dental care and rely on at-home oral health preventative measures to reduce the incidence of cavities, gum disease and plaque build-up.
What Seniors Can Do to Promote Good Oral Health
Fortunately, senior citizens can maintain good oral health by making sure to brush twice a day, floss and eat less sugary foods. The type of toothbrush used to clean teeth will also enhance the results of regularly cleaning teeth and gums. For example, dentists recommend that seniors exchange old toothbrushes for new ones every three to four months, or whenever they notice that the bristles are no longer straight. Bent or curved bristles are unable to reach into teeth crevices and gum lines where anaerobic bacteria tend to congregate and avoid being removed by saliva flow and rinsing with mouthwash.
Flossing daily with waxed floss is also recommended to remove food particles and bacteria lodged between teeth. For senior citizens who suffer from arthritis, stiff joints or loss of hand strength, specially designed floss holders make it easier to use floss by providing a device that does not require as the manual flexibility needed to hold floss with the fingers.
Senior Diet and Vitamins for Oral Health
Eating a well-balanced diet and receiving sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals is vital to maintaining good oral health as well.
Elderly people may sometimes neglect nutritional needs due to conditions such as:
- Badly fitting dentures
- Treatments for illnesses that involve chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Diminished sense of smell and taste
- Mental health issues
- Limited income and/or mobility difficulties
A deficiency in vitamin B is frequently a cause of poor oral health, oral fungal infections and canker sores in seniors. Symptoms of a vitamin B deficiency include swallowing problems, burning sensations within the oral cavity, a swollen or sore tongue and whitish tissue covering the inner cheeks that is easily scraped off with the finger or toothbrush. Leafy, dark-green vegetables such as spinach and kale, dairy products and fresh fruit are all examples of foods rich in vitamin B.
Oral Hygiene Products for Seniors
The best kind of oral hygiene products for seniors are toothpastes and mouthwashes made with natural, nonabrasive ingredients that effectively eliminate anaerobic bacterial growth. While most over the counter oral products purport to promote teeth and mouth health, many actually contain ingredients that exacerbate dry mouth and tissue sloughing, conditions that cause halitosis, tooth decay and gum disease.
Ineffective and potentially harmful ingredients such as alcohol and sodium lauryl sulfate are commonly found in mouthwashes and toothpastes. Research regarding these two substances have revealed that alcohol, although an antibacterial, dries the mouth and interferes with salivary gland functioning. Moreover, sodium lauryl sulfate, a foaming agent used in cleaning solutions and shampoos, is a known provoke canker sore eruption, teeth erosion and tissue abrasion.
TheraBreath® Products for Seniors
Oral hygiene products like TheraBreath do not contain these harmful substances. Instead, TheraBreath products provide professional oral health care for seniors by using only natural ingredients that eradicate anaerobic bacteria and promote fresh, clean breath without harming mouth tissues or causing dry mouth. This is possible because bacteriologist and dentist Dr. Harold Katz has patented a unique ingredient called OXYD-8, which oxygenates the mouth and increases saliva flow to safely and harmlessly remove food particles and kill disease-causing bacteria.
Because anaerobic bacteria cannot live in clean, oxygen-rich environments, seniors who use TheraBreath products will experience enhanced oral health, fresh breath and the peace of mind knowing that the mouthwashes and toothpastes manufactured by TheraBreath are providing their teeth and gums with the best oral health care possible outside of a dentist's office.