Because our teeth have to last a lifetime, it is important to take care of them at any age. Regardless of whether we are four or ninety four, our teeth all need the same things – brushing, flossing, and regular check ups. The elderly sector of society may, however, have additional dental needs, based on the use of dental apparatuses such as dentures or bridges. While our basic dental needs do not change, there are some issues that may arise that are unique to the elderly population and could indicate that there is a problem. Here are some of the things that family members and caregivers with elderly loved ones should take notice of and discuss with their dentist as soon as possible to avoid any long term dental issues.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can be caused by medications that have been prescribed to treat other health conditions. As the result of a dry mouth, an elderly person may have difficulty eating, chewing, or swallowing – all of which can present a choking hazard. Additionally, the soft tissue of the mouth may become chafed and inflamed, increasing the risk for infection.

Shrinking Gums

Shrinking gums are a common dental problem in the aged population. This can lead to increased sensitivity to hot and cold food and eventually lead to the teeth becoming loose and falling out. While there is not much that can be done to restore the lost tissue, there are mouthwashes and products on the market than can aide in reducing the sensitivity of the teeth.

Abrasions

Dental appliances such as dentures and partials can cause abrasions inside the mouth, if they are poorly fitted. These abrasions can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to treat in someone with an already compromised immune system. Always make sure that an elderly loved one is fitted for their appliance on a regular basis by a qualified dentist to avoid these issues.

Limited Motion and Visibility

Because the elderly often suffer from limited mobility issues and reduced vision capabilities, cleaning their teeth as well as they should be can be challenging at best. If a family member or caregiver of an elderly loved one notices that they are having trouble taking care of their personal dental hygiene, offering assistance is very important. Additionally, their dental professional may be able to offer some alternate methods of brushing their teeth and/or tools for making it easier for them to do alone.