Gum disease in the elderly is on the rise due to poor dental care. Many times dental care in the elderly isn't on the list of priorities, as they decline in health, other more serious illnesses become the focus of attention. The ironic part of this is that it might just be poor oral hygiene that is part of the cause of the other more serious illnesses such as heart disease and stroke. Sometimes, the elderly, or any of us for that matter, aren't aware of the fact that we may have gum disease or gingivitis.
The elderly are more susceptible to gingivitis and gum disease due to the fact that the gums naturally recede when aging. As a result, gum tissue moves away from the teeth leaving roots exposed and a prime target for bacteria to nestle in and do damage. The immune system also weakens as we age and this is why gum disease can be dangerous for the elderly.
Bacteria build up in the mouth eventually makes its way into the bloodstream and can cause many types of infection and advance on to more serious disease and illness in time. When we're younger and the immune system is healthy this bacteria isn't as harmful, but as we age it should be a concern. As we get older we need to be more vigilant about taking proper care of gums and teeth.
Even though gingivitis can sneak up on you there are some signs or symptoms to look for that will alert you so that you can treat it and avoid worse gum problems. Examine gums on a daily basis so that you notice changes right away. Some changes may consist of red, swollen, tender or receding gums, shifting teeth, bleeding when brushing or flossing and bad breath that you can't get rid of.
If you're convinced that gum disease is a part of aging let me assure you that it is not. As long as you are vigilant with 6 month visits to the dentist and follow the directions of said dentist you stand a very good chance of not experiencing gingivitis or any type of periodontal gum disease.
That is, unless you practice other forms of tooth and gum destruction such as alcohol and drug abuse, smoking and poor diet, too much junk food, sodas and sugar. We all know what damages the teeth, but did you know that it also does damage to the gums.
Dry mouth is another problem when it comes to gum disease in the elderly. This is due to the slowing down of the production of saliva as we age. Saliva secretion is the primary way foods and acids are washed off of the teeth, so when production slows down tooth decay can worsen. The good news is that dentists have remedies for dry mouth all you need to do is ask them.
What if you're not fortunate enough to have your own teeth but wear dentures instead? Denture wearers have as many concerns as those with their own teeth. Periodontal disease has no boundaries when it comes to the mouth and bacteria. Therefore, denture wearers also need to be vigilant when it comes to proper denture care and maintaining healthy gums.
Food particles can get trapped between gums and dentures when dentures fit loosely. It is vital to remove all food in these areas in a timely manner. Do not allow food to remain over night always remove dentures and soak them in denture cleanser. In addition, brush the inside of the mouth including tongue, roof of mouth and gums with a soft toothbrush and toothpaste. Use antiseptic mouthwash on a daily basis to kill germs and bacteria that can cause gum infections.
These same tips are good for those who have their own teeth. To add to this, it's also better to use an electric toothbrush on real teeth as long as it's one of quality. A waterpik is another item that should be in your arsenal of weapons to fend off gingivitis and cleanse gums.
Whether you have your own teeth or wear dentures it is wise to visit the dentist regularly for a check up. If every 6 months isn't affordable then try to at least go once a year. Only the dentist really knows what is going on inside the mouth we can only guess and hope all is well.
Lastly, gum disease in the elderly can diminish considerably when we are educated on how to properly care for gums and teeth. Healthy gums will help us to live longer and healthier.