Australia’s health care system seems to be neglecting the oral health of the ageing.
According to Dr Peter Foltyn, a leading dentist in St Vincent’s Hospital, the ageing population of Australia could be facing a dental Armageddon. He observed that dental health care for the aged was getting worse every day.
A person’s oral health can reflect their entire body health. Poor oral care can lead to chronic diseases such as oral cancer, diabetes, harmful infections, and even death.
Lack of Oral Health Assessments
During health assessments, oral health often is overlooked. Thus, most seniors enter into nursing homes with undiagnosed oral issues that can lead to complicated diseases that eventually end their lives.
According to Foltyn, the only way to avoid a future dental crisis is to include mandatory oral health assessments to the regular health assessments assigned to seniors aged 75 and older.
Those entering nursing homes for the aged also should undergo the assessment.
Other Oral Health Risks
A person’s oral health can signify their body health. Seniors with neglected oral care face the risk of getting serious diseases such as oral cancer, diabetes, acid reflux and osteoporosis.
Diabetic people are more likely to get gum diseases if they do not practise good oral care. Gum disease further exacerbates diabetes, which could lead to cardiovascular-related problems that can cause death.
Dangers of Poor Oral Health Among Seniors
Poor oral health can affect seniors significantly. Seniors with neglected oral care are likely to face the following:
- Chewing problems – Many seniors are malnourished due to chewing problems that make them eat less food than the required daily amount.
- Swallowing problems – Some medication given to the aged gives them dry mouths, which make swallowing food a problem.
- Heart disease – Gum-related diseases like gingivitis can lead to heart disease, which is fatal.
- Lack of sleep – Oral conditions and disorders cause pain and discomfort. Thus, the affected person sometimes can barely sleep at night.
- Appearance – The teeth of the aged might change colour due to tooth decay. Thinned enamel due to old age can also change the colour of teeth. This change can cause seniors to suffer from low self-esteem.
- Infections – Dental plaques and other oral disorders can cause respiratory tract infection to the aged.
Prevention and Solutions
Caregivers should emphasise the importance of regular dental check-ups for the aged. They should be encouraged to practise good oral care such as flossing, brushing and rinsing even when they are at home.
As people age, simple tasks such as brushing become difficult for them. This is true especially for the aged with arthritis, as it limits the movement of their limbs.
However, the following hacks can make their oral care routine easier:
- Use an electric or battery powered toothbrush.
- Use toothbrushes with large handles.
- Avoid smoking cigarettes.
- Use mouthwash every day.
- Drink a lot of water.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Brush twice a day.
- Floss daily.
These are all basic elements of good dental hygiene. Most of us were taught these as children. But, these principles are often overlooked as we age. Acting now can save you a lot of expense and discomfort down the track.
This post has been sponsored by Mallee Blue Media
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