Dental Health in the Aging Population: Challenges and Solutions

Last updated on May 20th, 2024

Dental health is essential in all stages of life. Still, elderly people are usually more aware of the importance of oral health as they are more vulnerable to dental problems and other medical conditions. According to Harvard Health Publishing, older adults suffer higher rates of various dental problems. Thus, dental health in the aging population is a serious issue to be considered by patients, governments, and dental professionals.

Thanks to the recent advancements in medicine, a growing number of people can reach advanced ages. Although it is an obvious success of modern medicine, the current state brings certain challenges to elderly people who wish to have comfortable golden years. Dental problems are one big challenge accelerated by aging. 

In this post, we are delving into the oral problems that elderly people face, and we are discussing the challenges and solutions. 

Why Are Older Adults More Prone To Dental Problems?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), poor dental health at advanced ages can be related to socioeconomic conditions. For example, older people with poor dental health are those who are usually economically disadvantaged and members of ethnic minorities with no insurance.

On the other hand, certain physiological conditions account for why elderly people are more prone to dental problems. Here are some of the most remarkable ones:

Wear and Tear: 

Acidic food, drinks, sugar, and other particles weaken the enamel over time. As a result, there is a significant degree of wear and tear in elderly people, which leads to dental problems.

Reduced Saliva:

Saliva is critical in washing away particles and bacteria in our mouths. As we get older, the production of saliva decreases. Thus, older people have dry mouths, which leads to oral health problems such as decay.

Other Health Conditions and Medications:

Medical conditions such as vascular diseases or diabetes can impact oral health. Elderly people tend to have one or more of these health problems, which leads to them taking medications regularly. Therefore, they have dry mouth and further side effects, which lead to dental problems.

Changes in Gum Tissue:

It is very common to see gums receding in elderly people. Receding gums expose more of their teeth and cause sensitivity in the teeth roots. Moreover, teeth with exposed roots are more likely to decay and experience gum disease.

Most of these conditions lead to tooth loss and lack of aesthetic and functionality of the teeth.

Oral Health Of Elderly People

Oral health is of great importance in all stages of life. However, as we age, dental issues can damage us more significantly. As detailed above, we tend to have an increasing vulnerability, chronic health conditions, medications…etc. in advanced ages. Fortunately, we have many things to maintain good oral health in the advanced ages. 

In this section, we are explaining the potential challenges and solutions that can help you lead a better-quality life in the golden years.

Challenges With Aging That Leads To Poor Oral Health

Here are some of the most remarkable challenges that elderly people face. One or more of them can play a significant role in the quality of oral health.

Physiological Issues:

Old age comes with health-related hurdles. For example, skills decrease as we get older, and brushing or flossing the teeth may not be as effective as they were before. Also, the amount of saliva can fail to protect us from bacteria, which leads to dry mouth, decay, and tooth loss.

Chronic Health Problems:

Apart from general physiological issues shared by the majority of elderly patients, it is also quite common that they tend to have one or more chronic health problems such as cardiovascular heart problems or diabetes. As you might expect, they use medications for a long time, exacerbating dental health problems such as dry mouth.

Financial Issues:

Although there are inexpensive protective routines such as tooth brushing and flossing, unfortunately, professional dental care is usually expensive. Thus, elderly people with fixed incomes or no health insurance can have problems with access to regular dentist visits or receiving necessary treatments. As a result, the snowball effects end up with serious dental problems among elderly people.

Psychological Factors:

Some older adults feel helpless as they face health problems, including decay or gum diseases. They think that the problems cannot be cured. Another issue is common in patients of all ages, fear of dentists. Although they are relatively more experienced in life, elderly people can have anxiety when it comes to dental treatments. Therefore, they can fail to have good oral health.

Solutions For Older People To Maintain A Better Oral Health

Here you can find a few tips to avoid bad oral health in old age.

Preventive Care:

We all know that the paramount of dental care is the preventive care that you give yourself. To this end, do not skip regular dentist check-ups, brush and floss your teeth regularly, and avoid damaging your tooth enamel.

Balanced Diet:

Make sure your diet is rich in calcium and vitamins. Fruit and vegetables are good sources of nutrients for you. On the other hand, avoid acidic and sugary food and drinks as they damage the tooth enamel. Also, since the saliva production decreases in advanced ages, keep your mouth and body hydrated by drinking water.

Interdisciplinary Health Care:

Overall health and dental health are closely related. Therefore, it is of great importance for you to know about the side effects of medications since some medications can impact your oral health. Also, if you fail to maintain your daily oral care, caregivers should assist in brushing your teeth.

Financial Aid Programs:

Governments offer financial programs, some dental schools offer discounts, or there might be a group dental care program for you. Explore such programs and check whether you are eligible for one of those benefits. Making use of such aid programs can decrease the cost of dental treatments considerably. 

Addressing The Geriatric Dentistry:

Geriatric dentists specialize in the dental health needs of the aging population. If you think you have unique needs as an older adult, geriatrics can provide you with a calming and supportive atmosphere to feel more comfortable. They are also knowledgeable of pain management procedures that fit your needs best.

How Are Elderly Patients Treated At Maltepe Dental Clinic?

At Maltepe Dental Clinic, everyone can smile confidently, and elderly people are no exception. We know that elderly people have unique needs and might have different expectations from other patients. Our gentle and experienced dental professionals provide them with a comfortable and relaxing treatment environment, and our senior patients never get stressed during their visits. 

We always communicate clearly with our patients. However, for elderly people, we have become even clearer in explaining every point throughout the procedure. We answer any question they ask. Also, we offer them more flexible appointments and consider their unique needs, such as transportation or overall medical conditions. 

Contact us now and receive high-quality maintenance for Dental Health in the Aging Population from one of the best dental clinics in İstanbul, Turkey.

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