As your dentist in Vancouver, Washington, Dr. Lance Heppler wants all of his patients to know that you can’t enjoy quality overall health without also enjoying quality oral health. Just as a cut on your finger can allow bacteria to enter the blood stream, infections caused by gum disease can also spread throughout the body.
The mouth acts as the gateway to your stomach and other parts of the body. In recent years, researchers have been learning more about the connection between chronic health conditions such as diabetes and an individual’s oral health.
Individuals, for example, that suffer from diabetes are far more likely to develop gum disease when compared to those without the disease. Additionally, those who suffer from gum disease are also more likely to become diabetic. Other studies have also found links between poor oral health and a range of chronic health conditions that include heart disease, stroke, obesity, arthritis, and cancer. It’s this kind of symbiotic relationship that makes it so important for patients to schedule regular exams and cleanings with our staff at Dental Designs Vancouver.
Improved dental care becomes especially important the older we become.
Importance of Senior Dental Care
Regular dental exams offer the potential for uncovering certain types of medical conditions. Diagnostic tools used by Dr. Heppler such as X-rays and comprehensive screenings of the neck and head may identify noncancerous and cancerous growths. A dental exam can also identify systemic problems like a blood disorder. The average age for most people to receive an oral cancer diagnosis is 62, according to the American Cancer Society. No matter how you view it, regular dental care means far more to your health than just ensuring strong teeth and gums.
Seniors also tend to take a higher number of prescription medications, some of which may cause dry mouth as a symptom. If after a few weeks or months of taking a certain type of medication you experience frequent bouts of dry mouth, drinking more water isn’t the answer.
Dry mouth causes the body to produce less saliva, which acts as your natural defense against harmful oral bacteria. When your mouth fails to produce enough saliva to wash away food and bacteria from the surface of your teeth throughout the day, you become at a higher risk of suffering from decay and gum disease.
If you experience dry mouth as the result of medication, talk with your doctor about adjusting your dosage or finding an alternative replacement medication you can take.
When flossing and brushing becomes harder for seniors, it’s not uncommon for Dr. Heppler to see plaque buildup along the gum lines and for food to become caught in their teeth. Fortunately, Dr. Heppler can recommend a number of easy-to-use dental devices that can help make up for diminished manual dexterity and improve a patient’s ability to properly brush teeth his or her teeth.
The majority of us will experience some type of oral health problem as we grow older. By scheduling regular dental care, seniors can enjoy a healthy smile now and into the future.
Common Signs Seniors Shouldn’t Ignore
Now that we’ve established the importance of senior dental care, there are a number of common oral health problems that many seniors tend to ignore. If you experience any of these issues, you need to schedule a visit with your dentist in Vancouver, Washington, Dr. Lance Heppler:
- Bleeding gums. Your gums shouldn’t bleed after brushing. If they do, there’s an excellent chance that you’re suffering from an infection caused by gum disease. Dr. Heppler can help diagnose the cause of your bleeding gums and provide a recommendation on how to restore your oral health.
- Softer teeth. Our teeth shouldn’t get softer the older we become. Softer teeth are the result of bone loss, periodontal disease, or dental decay. Regardless of the reason, you need to seek immediate dental care to help reverse the problem before permanent tooth loss occurs.
- Oral pain. If it hurts to chew, talk, or drink hot or cold beverages, you may have an underlying oral health problem that needs treatment. Waiting to receive treatment only allows the condition to become worse, so don’t grin and bear the pain. Seek help from Dr. Heppler.