With May serving as Older Americans Month, our team at Newberg Family Dental thought now would make the perfect time to discuss the importance of senior dental care in Newberg.

As we grow older, it becomes perfectly natural that some things gradually take on less importance. For many seniors, especially those in assisted living homes, the quality of their oral health and, by no coincidence, dedication to their oral hygiene, begin to suffer. Unfortunately, our oral health still plays an important role in helping to determine not only the health of our teeth and gums but our overall health as well.

Let’s take a look at a few of the obstacles seniors face that can negatively impact their oral health, and what can be done to make sure seniors continue to look and feel their best well into the golden years.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth ranks as one of the most common and chronic conditions many seniors must deal with in order to protect their oral health.

As we age, the number of prescription medications we take increases. For many commonly prescribed meds, such as those used to treat high blood pressure, depression, and even allergies, dry mouth is a side effect.

Saliva acts as the body’s natural defense mechanism against harmful oral bacteria that contributes to the development of tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. When the body produces less saliva than normal, our teeth become far more susceptible to the effects of plaque and other types of harmful oral bacteria.

If a medication you take causes you to experience persistent dry mouth, try talking with your doctor about making the switch to a different medication that won’t have such a negative side effect. If switching meds is not an option, make sure to talk with Dr. McLeod during your next visit. She can provide you with plenty of advice and treatment options on how to avoid many of the common problems associated with senior dental care in Newberg.

Poor Nutrition

When combined with dry mouth, a lack of practicing quality oral hygiene at home can lead to the development of tooth decay and severe gum disease. If gum disease isn’t properly treated, it can progress to the point where permanent tooth loss occurs.

The loss of teeth can make chewing more difficult, especially for seniors without dentures. When chewing hard foods becomes too painful or uncomfortable, many seniors make a change to their diet by eating softer foods. Unfortunately, by only eating soft foods, seniors are unlikely to receive enough nutrition for them to maintain their weight and health.

If tooth loss has made chewing difficult, you need to consider a replacement option. At Newberg Family Dental, Dr. McLeod offers patients a number of options for restoring their smiles back to health. Full and partial dentures can help to restore a smile missing more than a few teeth, while dental implants make an ideal solution for replacing a single missing tooth.

Maintaining a healthy diet is a key part of enjoying a healthy life. Don’t underestimate what restoring your smile back to its fullest can mean for your quality of life.

Unhealthy Appearance

Our teeth do more than just allow us to eat and smile. Our teeth play an important role in helping to provide our faces with tone and definition. Seniors who have experienced permanent tooth loss can also develop bone loss as the bone structure under the missing tooth begins to deteriorate. This deterioration can also begin to spread to neighboring healthy teeth, putting them at risk of tooth loss as well.

When a gap appears in a smile, the teeth that neighbor that gap will begin to subtly shift and move to fill the vacancy. This can create an uneven smile and an uneven bite that can make eating more difficult.

Additionally, missing teeth can cause the face to take on a hollow and unwell appearance as sunken cheeks rob the face of its definition.

The problems listed above are only a small sample of what can occur when seniors start to neglect their oral health. Don’t let senior dental care in Newberg become something you choose to ignore. Contact our office today to schedule your next senior dental appointment with Dr. McLeod and start smiling with confidence.

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