When it comes to elderly health, the focus is usually on things such as the heart and the mind, but what about the mouth? Taking care of elderly teeth and gums is just as important. Senior dental problems can be common. It is important to recognize that oral health directly impacts the health of the rest of the body, so these issues need to be taken seriously.
A dental exam can uncover a whole host of health problems from heart or liver disease, diet deficiencies, anemia, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, and even some autoimmune diseases.
Studies show a correlation between gum disease and heart disease. People with periodontal disease can face double the risk of fatal heart disease. Periodontal disease is also associated with higher rates of stroke in some studies. In certain cases, a tooth infection has the potential to cause an infection of the heart's inner lining or the heart valves. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream and damage heart tissue or lodge in the valves.
The problem could be so damaging that it could destroy the heart valves. There are many other diseases that can affect oral health. One example is diabetes. Diabetes inhibits healing. If a diabetic senior has gum disease, it may take quite a bit longer to treat the condition because of poor healing time.
Doctors and Dentists are trained to look for overall health problems when taking care of elderly patients and encourage behaviors that will promote a healthy body from head to toe.