Although it is possible to maintain good oral health in later life, you may face certain challenges that are commonly experienced by older people, such as a dry mouth, wear and tear of teeth from many years of chewing, root decay, and gum disease. It is important to try to maintain good oral health as you age, because it can affect your well-being and health, as well as your appearance and confidence. An unhealthy mouth can have an adverse impact on other parts of your body, and increase your risk of health problems such as heart attack and stroke.
The Link Between Oral and Heart Health
The spread of bacteria and other germs is what makes poor oral health a contributing factor to heart problems. It is estimated that there are between 500 to 650 different bacterial species in the oral cavity. These bacteria are kept under control by the body’s natural defense system and good oral health. However, with a lack of proper oral care, they can potentially lead to oral infections, which can in turn spread to other parts of your body through your bloodstream.
A study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showed that poor oral health can result in infective endocarditis, which is an infection of the inner lining of the heart. This happens when germs and bacteria from the mouth spread through the bloodstream and attach themselves to damaged areas of the heart.
Additionally, a scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) mentioned that the link between inflammations caused by oral bacteria and atherosclerosis or clogged arteries may lead to stroke. Here are some tips on maintaining oral health during your senior years.
It is recommended that you use a soft bristled toothbrush to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss to clean between your teeth at least once a day. This is really important because it helps prevent the formation of plaque.
Denture wearers should clean their dentures daily using cleaning products specifically made for it. Dentures should also be taken out of the mouth for at least four hours every day to help maintain healthy gums.
Visit the Dentist
A regular dental checkup supports the daily cleaning efforts made at home. It also helps in recognizing early signs of gum disease and tooth decay early.
Diet and Lifestyle
Everything that comes into the mouth affect oral hygiene. A healthy diet including fruits and vegetables is recommended to help the teeth and gums stay in good shape. Smoking is generally not good for your health, and it is known to increase the risk of heart disease in seniors. As such, it is recommended that you quit the habit entirely.
A great smile does not only reflect the beauty and confidence of a person; it can also lower your risk of heart attack, stroke, and other diseases. Seniors should take extra measures to keep their oral health in good condition.