Age related concerns

Dossier : Senior citizens: take care of your mouth

Oral care of senior citizens

The passing of time has an impact on the body, including the teeth and gums. Wear and age related changes weaken the mouth. Therefore it demands more attention. 

REDUCTION OF SALIVARY FLOW IN OLDER PEOPLE

Systematic diseases or medicines can lead to a reduction in salivary flow. This phenomenon increases the risk of decay and gingivitis.

SALIVA: ESSENTIAL FOR THE PREVENTION OF CAVITIES AND GINGIVITIS

Saliva plays a vital role in the prevention of cavities and gingivitis:

  • Its antibacterial properties reduce the proliferation of bacteria
  • By regulating oral pH, it helps to reduce the impact of acid attacks on teeth, which are responsible for the demineralisation of enamel and the formation of cavities
  • Thanks to the mineral ions that it contains, saliva contributes to the re-mineralisation of the tooth surface after an acid attack

PREVENTING A REDUCTION OF SALIVARY FLOW

Ways to alleviate symptoms include:

1. Encouraging the production of saliva and preventing dehydration.

    For this, you should:

  • Chew sugar-free gums or suck sugar-free sweets if you wear a denture
  • Drink water regularly
  • Suck small chips of ice

2. Having rigorous oral hygiene helps reduce the risk of cavities and gingivitis. 

 This means:

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day
  • Using interdental brushes
  • Using fluoride toothpaste and mouthwashes to reduce the development of oral bacteria and the risk of the formation of cavities
  • Visit a dentist regularly so that he/she can clean the surfaces of your teeth professionally

If you experience a dry mouth, do not hesitate to contact your GP or dentist.

 

AGE, A FACTOR IN THE WEAR OF TEETH

Over the years, teeth become worn due to biting, tearing, grinding and chewing but also from regular attacks from acidic foods and drinks for example. We call this phenomenon dental erosion or enamel erosion. Little by little, the enamel erodes without us even noticing it. Therefore, teeth become weaker over time. 

SENIOR CITIZENS: AN INCREASED RISK OF PERIODONTITIS

Menopausal women are more susceptible to periodontal diseases. These diseases can affect the whole periodontal tissue (the tissue supporting the tooth). This can be explained by the decrease in oestrogens, the female hormones involved in reproduction.

Gingivitis is very common and does not only affect women. Men too can be affected. Gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease if not controlled, and periodontal diseases can cause tooth loss. Several factors can contribute to the development of periodontal disease:

  • Enzymes and toxins of mature plaque bacteria which gradually breaks down periodontal tissues
  • Smoking
  • Chronic conditions such as diabetes

Ref: J&J internal data

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