Dental Medical Management Plan for the Elderly
Even though Medicare is great for Australians, it often falls behind when it comes to dental care. The elderly can face quite serious issues with their teeth, especially as they approach their seventies and eighties. As you age, it’s important to have a dental plan in place that is incorporated into your overall health. There is a lot more to think about when it comes to coming up with a dental medical management plan for elderly patients.
A Few Facts
Almost a quarter of adults aged 65 to 74 have periodontal disease. This disease is associated with chronic health issues, such as diabetes mellitus, heart disease, stroke and respiratory disease.
While nearly 30 percent of older adults lose their teeth, loosing teeth is not an eventuality of aging, and it can be avoided. In addition, you should know that the mouth changes as you age. One way is that the nerves in your teeth shrink, making your teeth less sensitive to cavities and other problems.
What does all this mean? Just that among the many things you’ll have to be diligent about in your healthcare routine as you age, your oral health is one of the most important.
Combatting Medication Side Effects
There are over 400 medications that can cause dry mouth. Saliva is important because it keeps the mouth wet and protects your teeth from decay and infection by controlling the bacteria in the mouth.
Some of the ways to combat this are to avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, acidic juices or soda that cause dry mouth. Also don’t smoke, and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Chewing sugar-free gum can help stimulate saliva.
Beware of Poor Nutrition
Eating sugary and acidic foods can contribute to cavities, gum disease and other oral health issues that could lead to poor nutrition. Avoid hard and sticky lollies and starchy foods. Drink lots of water and eat foods from the major food groups. Once you get your mouth into a bad state, chewing will become painful and you won’t be able to taste much, so it’s better to prevent this by being responsible about nutrition as you age.
Poor Oral Health and Disease and Sickness
Poor oral health has been linked to many diseases and sicknesses, especially in the elderly, from pneumonia to diabetes to heart disease.
Bacterial droplets breathed in from the mouth to the lungs can cause those in nursing homes and hospitals to be very susceptible to pneumonia. Good hygiene practices good really prevent death from pneumonia.
If you are already diabetic, poor oral hygiene that leads to periodontitis (gum disease) will hinder your body’s ability to use insulin. High blood sugar worsens gum infections. As such, it is important to control your blood glucose levels and keep your dentist informed of any changes in your condition or in the medication you take.
Gum disease, while it isn’t clear if it causes heart disease, is very clearly related to it. So there is another medical reason why the elderly should maintain proper dental care.
Coburg Dental Group offers many services for the elderly and can help you come up with a comprehensive dental and medical plan to tend to your overall health. For more information, contact us today or book an appointment online.