After Age 60, Dental Health Still Very Important

While dental issues may seem like a thing of the past for people over age 60, it’s important to understand that as we age, we are faced with another life stage where cavities and other oral health problems may become more common.

There are a wide variety of factors that can lead to cavities, tooth decay, and other oral health issues in people over age 60.  Dry mouth is a leading cause of cavities, and while it’s not necessarily part of the aging process, it’s a side effect of over 500 different medications, including those for high blood pressure, allergies and asthma, high cholesterol, anxiety and depression, Parkinson’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease.  It’s important to discuss your medications with your dentist.

Many older adults have gum disease caused by bacteria found in plaque that grows on the teeth.  Gum disease is typically painless until it’s in an advanced stage, where it can lead to destruction of the gums, bone, and ligaments supporting the teeth.  For patients with dentures, regular cleaning is imperative to prevent gum disease.

Oral cancer is another dental-related health issue, with approximately 35,000 cases of mouth, throat, and tongue cancer diagnosed annually.  The average age of people diagnosed with these cancers is 62.  Regular dental check-ups are vital, as early detection saves lives.

For people with specific heart conditions, the American Heart Association has established recommendations involving the use of antibiotics before certain dental procedures.  While a healthy immune system prevents oral bacteria from causing harm if it enters a patient’s bloodstream, some people can develop dangerous infections from it.  These guidelines also include recommendations for certain patients with artificial joints.

At Newton Health Care Center, residents are monitored and assisted daily with oral health care procedures as part of their 24/7 fully staffed health services.  For more information about dental care for adults over age 60, contact your doctor.

Newton Health Care Center

200 S. 8th Ave. East

Newton, IA 50208