With the advancement of scientific knowledge and the emergence of more modern medicinal treatments, the longevity of the population has increased every decade and, as a result, oral health in the elderly also started to demand more care and attention, and may become better even with the changes that the phase brings to the body.
In fact, with all these advances and improvements provided to the quality of life of this public, the whole concept of old age has also been modernized.
Today, the concern with well-being, physical activity and appearance has been increasingly important for this age group.
In this sense, the discussion about oral health in old age has gained new contributions, combining health – itself -, beauty, quality to processes and general well-being.
Over time, it is natural that changes occur in the body, facilitating the emergence of diseases and some weaknesses in various parts of the body and immune system.
Therefore, keeping healthy, well nourished and away from diseases that can progress to possible complications is essential, especially during this period.
This has been a great reason for the attention dedicated to caries and gingivitis treatments, as well as the correct follow-up with the professional, as there is a greater understanding of the importance of the cavity for the whole body.
Likewise, there is an increasing demand for the performance of some aesthetic procedures that, more than taking care of beauty, can help improve the patient’s nutrition.
Therefore, check in more detail over the next topics about the importance of oral health in old age and the procedures that can be done at this stage.
Importance of oral health care in the elderly
Care with oral hygiene and health is essential, regardless of age. That’s because the integrity of the teeth affects all sectors of our health, since the mouth is the beginning of the entire digestive process, as well as the main entrance to several diseases.
Diseases such as caries, gingivitis and periodontitis are the most common among elderly people.
These conditions can cause the teeth to weaken and even lose them – requiring the use of dentures or dental implant.
Dental agenesis (loss of one or more teeth) can have serious consequences for the patient’s well-being. From the discomfort with the use of dentures to the difficulty in consuming adequate nutrition due to difficulty in chewing.
In addition, the lack of treatment or the incomplete procedure to cure these conditions can be especially dangerous for patients over 40 years of age.
The consequence of worsening these diseases can result in heart problems and inflammation in various parts of the body, including the brain.
Most common problems in this period
Among the oral problems that can affect, most frequently, elderly people are:
- Increased sensitivity;
- Gum retraction;
- Problems in the roots of teeth;
- Gingivitis and periodontitis;
- Dry mouth.
It is also quite common for oral injuries to occur due to poor fit or incorrect movement of the denture.
In addition, the use of medications or medical illnesses, such as diabetes, can cause xerostomia (commonly known as dry mouth).
These problems, together with the relaxation of oral hygiene, or inadequacy of the process due to the mobility that changes, can exponentially increase the appearance and spread of bacteria that cause caries and gingival inflammation.
Another type of problem is related to the aesthetics and functionality of teeth.
Cracks, breaks and the darkening that can occur over time affect the patient’s health and self-esteem.
Therefore, it is also interesting to evaluate the possibilities in this regard, as they can be treated with simple and safe repairs, such as the application of dental contact lens.
care to be taken
It is very important that oral hygiene care is not abandoned or diminished over time.
As much as it is a repetitive procedure, brushing in old age should happen at least three times a day and properly, considering the specific needs that may exist.
In this sense, it is necessary to use brushes that are adequately sized and have soft bristles, so that gums are not injured.
Brushing should be done gently, without applying too much force, so as not to cause gingival retraction. Also, it is important to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride.
This type of toothpaste will help fight caries, while those that promote whitening, for prolonged use, can cause teeth sensitivity or aggravation of an existing condition.
Flossing is essential at least once a day and if you need to choose, give preference to using it at night, before bedtime, as this period is more prone to the proliferation of bacteria.
As for the mouthwash, the ideal is for the dentist to indicate what best fits the needs, but resorting to those containing fluoride can also be interesting.
The use of antiseptic, combined with brushing the tongue, can help fight bacteria located in the most difficult places, in addition to helping with the breath.
It is also noteworthy that patients who use a dental prosthesis must perform their cleaning outside the oral cavity, with a specific toothpaste for cleaning dentures and store the structure properly to avoid contact with bacteria.
Furthermore, patients of all age groups should see their dentist for routine evaluations every six months.
In the case of elderly or diabetic patients, it is recommended that these visits be carried out more frequently, preferably every four months.
This is because they are necessary for the identification and control of problems early on and for ascertaining the need for some clinical or aesthetic procedure.
In fact, it is during these visits that you can also ask about guidelines related to correct hygiene and the value of a dental implant fixed, for example.
Aesthetic procedures can also be evaluated in these consultations, as mentioned above, either by a patient’s desire or need identification.
A recurrent example of a need that can arise and cause discomfort to patients at this stage is related to the color of teeth.
This is because, with the passage of time and changes in the mucosa, as well as hygiene and food consumption habits, it is natural that the dentition becomes more stained and/or yellowish.
Thus, the realization of a tooth whitening can be very interesting to recover the structure and reduce possible discomfort with teething.
Advantages that oral care can bring to everyday life
The fact is that oral health represents a great influence on health and daily life. Thus, regular dental follow-up can impact the improvement of quality of life, nutrition, nutrient absorption, self-esteem and the patient’s ability to socialize.
Thus, performing treatments, whether aesthetic or not, can have very positive effects on mental health, from simple to more complex procedures.
However, it is important to talk to your dentist about the feasibility for your frame and the values, as they can vary a lot, as in the case of research on how much does tooth whitening cost, for example, as they may vary according to the technique applied and the specific need of each patient.
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