Recent research proves that the health of your teeth and mouth is an indication of your overall health, and the same holds true for Granny. If you are charged with looking after her health and well being, don’t forget about her teeth and gums. Any dental problems in a senior need to be taken seriously, as these can have a serious impact on their overall health. Not looking after her teeth is the equivalent of not checking on the health of her heart.
Elderly Diseases With Oral Symptoms
Dentists are able to give an initial diagnosis of a number of disease from what they find when conducting a basic oral exam. Some of these are life-threatening, especially to the elderly and include:
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Eating disorders
- Vitamin deficiencies
The medical and dental fields are just now beginning to see how dental health and physical health are directly related.
There is a direct relationship between gum disease and heart disease, with even the risk factors being similar for both. These include:
- Poor diet
- Weight gain
- No exercise
Those who have severe periodontal disease double their risk of suffering from a fatal heart attack, and also increase the odds of having a stroke. The bacteria from a tooth infection can infect the heart’s inner lining and valves. This could lead to the destruction of Granny’s heart valves.
Certain chronic degenerative diseases share risk factors with gum disease like lupus and ulcerative colitis. If your grandma does need dental procedures performed it is likely that she will be first prescribed antibiotics.
Getting Grandma on the Right Oral Health Track
It is easy to overlook healthy teeth and gums when you are dealing with the onset of arthritis and other age related ailments. Grandma may also be having a hard time holding her tooth brush or standing at the sink for too long.
First make sure that she has the right equipment. Get her an electronic toothbrush to make brushing faster and a water flosser so that she doesn’t have to deal with little pieces of strings. Oral irrigators that are highly rated like these can make a huge difference in oral health.
Make sure that she is brushing after every meal, and not just at morning or bedtime. If weak wrists are an issue from arthritis, then brush them for her. If she is at risk for gum disease then ask her dentist about prescribing special toothpastes or gels.
One last thing to note is the special needs of denture wearers. If they are not fitting well, it will become difficult to eat, causing other types of health issues. If you notice that Grams is avoiding certain foods, it might be because her dentures have shifted.
Teeth perform vital functions in our day to day lives, and this does not change as we age. Help Grandma keep her gorgeous smile, and you will be protecting her whole body.