Many senior citizens can be heard bemoaning the fact that they are not able to eat and enjoy food the way they used to when they were younger. In some cases, it may be because of digestive disorders or other related health problems. However, in many cases, it is because of dental issues, and the lack of dental service, that make eating a less than pleasant experience. Not being able to eat an ear of corn or chew on a rib may not be life-threatening issues, but they do detract from the quality of life.
The National Institute of Aging (part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) has identified dental problems as a matter that seniors tend to ignore and pay the price for. The main problems that the elderly face are listed below.
Your teeth are protected by a hard outer coating called enamel. Every day, a film of bacteria, known as dental plaque, build up on the enamel. The plaque is not visible to the naked eye. The bacteria that make up the plaque produce acids that eat away at the enamel. The loss of enamel leads to the development of cavities. Cavities are not desirable at any age, but in younger people, it is easier to deal with them by way of fillings and other treatments. In the elderly, the natural aging process may have weakened the teeth and gums so that many treatment options are not viable or are less effective or not very long-lasting. Everyone knows about the importance of regular brushing and flossing and doing them the right way, but even then, problems will arise. Regular visits to a dentist will make sure problems are spotted in the early stages when treatment is simpler and faster.
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The same plaque that eats away at the enamel also builds up along the gum line. The bacteria in the plaque infect the gums and this is not just painful but also weakens the gums and bone that hold the teeth in place. This can result in sensitive and bleeding gums and teeth loss at any age. In the case of the elderly, the risks are even greater as their immune system and metabolism are not as strong as it was when they were young. Gum disease can be treated, but preventing it with regular dental check-ups is always the better choice.
The elderly may not be as physically active as they were when they were younger, but this does not mean that they are less injury prone. Seniors form a large portion of the patients who go to the emergency room. Ignoring a small injury to the mouth may have serious consequences for the elderly whose natural ability to recover is not as strong as it used to be. There is no reason to feel foolish about visiting a dentist for even a minor dental injury - it can help avoid the need for major treatment later on.
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Dental treatment is no longer the long and painful process it was some decades ago when the seniors of today were young people. There is no reason to not go for regular dental treatment and check-ups to ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy. If you are a senior, you should find a family dentist who offers a full range of services, including emergency treatment, and go to her for regular check-ups. It will help protect your overall health and will allow you to enjoy eating once again. Contact us at 408-725-1536 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started on your dental health.