According to the American College of Prosthodontists, in the United States, 178 million people are “edentulous,”: missing at least one tooth. And the number of persons who have lost all of their teeth is a steadily climbing number of currently 35 million. The elderly population suffers from this condition at a rate of 2-to-1 over the rest of the country, with 23 million being completely edentulous.
Colgate Toothpaste states that severe gum disease affects 23 percent of people ages 65 – 74. This can result in tooth loss, but also increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Heightening the threat is osteoporosis, which the National Institutes of Health reports makes an elderly woman three times more likely to lose a tooth than a woman without the disease.
Heavy news indeed. But there is still light: while for many years, complete tooth loss was considered to be inevitable as a person ages, we now know that by following just a few tips we can make it a lot less likely:
Perform proper dental hygiene
Brushing twice a day goes without question. But also make sure that your elderly loved one knows the great importance of daily flossing. The gums need stimulation, and if not eliminated, residue between the teeth can weaken them and cause tooth loss. People with arthritis may find performing these activities to be a challenge, so ask them, and develop a plan based on their reply.
Get regular dental checkups
Your parent should go to the dentist at least once – but preferably twice – a year, even if they wear dentures. Dental health professionals offer in-office equipment that can detect any potential issues before they become severe.
Easier said than done, that’s for sure. But eight out of ten oral cancer patients are smokers. Those numbers might help with the decision-making.
Take a look at your parent’s medications.
They could be leading her to tooth loss. Dry mouth is a side effect of over 500 medications, according to MouthHealthy.org. If your parent is taking any of them (ask their physician), encourage drinking more water and/or using an oral moisturizer to keep their mouth lubricated. MouthHealthy says that a humidifier could help, as well.
Experienced tooth loss already? Make sure dentures fit well
If tooth loss has already occurred, a replacement, such as a denture or implant should be used to prevent further issues. But denture wearers beware: a nasty fungus called Candida Albicans lurks within mouths of those with ill-fitting dentures. It causes an inflammatory condition called stomatitis that can target your teeth for elimination.
Attention to dental care is important at any age. But for your elderly parent, it becomes even more crucial in maintaining good health and quality of life. If you are considering elder care options, we at 805Aging can help.
Our professional staff specializes in assisting you to choose the right kind of care for your loved one. Be it at home or in a community, we conduct regular check-ins when you are unable to do so. 805Aging also provides oversight and detailed feedback to the family to keep your loved one safe and well-cared for day or night, weekday or weekend, holiday and every day.
We have the resources. We can hold your hand. We can guide you. Your peace of mind is our main goal, and is well assured. To find out more, call us at 805-750-4755 or visit our website: www.805Aging.com.
There is no manual on how to take care of your parents as they age. They had a baby book when you were young. You have us. -Amy