Many people believe that tooth loss is a natural part of aging and, therefore, neglect dental health among the elderly. This is a mistake because studies show that taking care of dental health can prevent or slow down the onset of cognitive decline and dementia among older people.
Studies Prove That Poor Dental Health Causes Mental Decline
JAMDA: The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine published a 2021 study from the Rory Meyers College of Nursing of New York University showing that the risk of cognitive deterioration and dementia increases with every tooth lost among the elderly.
A 2022 study from the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics of Arnold School was funded by the National Institute on Aging. It acknowledged that previous studies had already associated poor dental health with diminished cognitive function and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study supported the findings that among adults aged 60 and older, those with poor dental health were more likely to have diminished cognitive function compared to those with better dental health. Analysis showed that the body produced IgG antibodies to fight periodontal microorganisms. This caused their faster cognitive decline. The researchers concluded that the state of an older person’s dental health can be a predictor for the early detection of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Protect Your Elderly Loved Ones’ Dental Health
If you have elderly loved ones, what can you do to protect their dental health? Here are some tips.
Give them healthy snacks. Eating sugary snacks can contribute to cavities. Instead, give them fruits and vegetables, cheese, or nuts. These are all healthy snacks that won’t harm their teeth.
Monitor their medications. Some medications can cause dry mouth, which can lead to cavities. If your loved one is taking medication, ask their doctor if it could be causing dry mouth. If so, there may be a different medication they can take that doesn’t have this side effect.
Encourage them to brush and floss daily. This will help remove plaque and bacteria from their teeth and gums. Get them a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps prevent cavities and strengthens teeth. It’s especially important for older adults because they may be taking medications that cause dry mouth, which increases the risk of cavities.
It’s crucial to have regular professional dental cleanings twice a year. Make sure they see the dentist regularly. Older adults are more prone to gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss. Having a regular dental check-up can help prevent or catch gum disease early.
You can also ask the dentist about getting sealants for your loved one’s teeth. Sealants are thin layers of plastic that are applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth. They help prevent cavities by keeping out food and bacteria.
Address Tooth Loss in the Best Way Possible
If your elderly loved one loses a tooth or several teeth, they should see a dentist to get fitted for dentures or implants. This is important because missing teeth can lead to problems with eating, speaking, and smiling. It can also cause your loved one to become socially isolated.
Ask the dentist if your loved one is a good candidate for dental implants instead of dentures. Dental implants are superior to dentures because the latter has the following drawbacks:
- Dentures are removable and therefore move in the mouth. This can cause speech difficulties.
- Dentures can slip off while speaking or eating, causing embarrassment.
- Dentures make it difficult to eat a lot of things, depriving your loved ones of the food they like and interfering with their nourishment.
- Dentures can be uncomfortable and even painful. They can also cause gum sores because they rub against the gums.
On the other hand, an implanted replacement tooth is almost like a natural tooth. A titanium rod is implanted in the jawbone and becomes part of the bone as it heals. The crown or artificial tooth is attached to the rod. The implanted tooth is permanent and does not move. It feels and looks like a real tooth.
That means your loved one can speak and smile naturally with no impediments. They can eat any food they want. The implant will not cause any pain or discomfort. It also does not need any special care other than what they do with their natural teeth.
It is important for your elderly loved one to have a vibrant social life. This can help stave off depression and cognitive decline. Dental implants give them the confidence to socialize without worrying about their teeth. Your elderly loved one’s comfort is also paramount. Implants are the best way to achieve this.
Dental implants are the best solution for tooth loss in older adults. They are permanent, natural-looking, and comfortable. They also don’t require special care. Encourage your elderly loved one to see a dentist and get dental implants if they have lost teeth.
Taking Care of Your Elderly Loved Ones’ Teeth is Part of Their Critical Care
Make sure your elderly loved ones maintain good oral health. It’s crucial for their overall health, well-being, and quality of life. Taking care of your elderly loved ones’ dental health is important for their overall health and well-being. It can help prevent cognitive decline and dementia. Follow the tips above to help keep their mouths healthy.