Health and Wellness

Health and Wellness

As aging affects the body, so does it also affect dental health.
As aging affects the body, so does it also affect dental health. It is not uncommon for older people to suffer from oral conditions such as dry mouth syndrome, gum disease, oral cancers, tooth decay and tooth loss. As we age, our gums naturally thin, therefore, any bacteria that may be present in the mouth may be able to cross more easily into the blood vessels of the mouth. This bacterium, in turn, can travel throughout the body. Inflammation has been implicated in several diseases, with the mouth being the starting point of a medical condition. Diseases of the mouth can have whole body health implications, hence, putting the immune system on high alert.

As an example, periodontal of gum disease, has been linked to serious health concerns such as heart disease and stroke. Additionally, disease such as diabetes,  can also be contributing factor to oral health problems; many medications  that are used to treat diseased that can lead to tooth decay and gum irritation.

Diabetes patients, typically suffer from poor circulation, which can result in slower healing. Be sure to make your dentist aware of your diabetic condition. This will allow him or her to determine the proper treatment plan and the timing of that treatment.

The risk of tooth loss goes up considerably as we age, generally due to existing and ongoing gum problems, as well as the thinning of the tooth enamel. One’s inability to bite and chew can be detrimental to the health and nutritional well being of an individual. Keeping on top of your oral health and replacing any missing teeth would be essential for general well being. It is also important to immediately repair any broken teeth or loose or broken fillings.

Oral diseases can also wreak havoc on other parts of the body. Technology has granted our aging population the ability to enjoy the positive effects of join replacement. Joint replacement is quite common, but what many patients are not aware of is that an artificial joint can become the focus of an infection.

It is vitally important that you inform your dentist if you have had a joint replacement.  With any upcoming dental work, your dentist will instruct you to take antibiotics prior to any procedure, including cleaning. This will help to prevent a potential infection; when the gums are disturbed during a cleaning, bacteria can break free which can then travel through the blood stream. Once in the blood stream, this bacteria can become lodged at the site of the artificial joint, possibly causing an infection, ultimately leading to the joint failing and/or surgery.

Those who are over the age of 50, should take extra precautions in being meticulous about their oral health care; brushing and flossing your teeth along with using a mouth wash, such as Listerine, will kill any bacteria which can eventually lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Drinking plenty of water and using mouth moisturizers, such as Biotene, can help to prevent or treat dry mouth syndrome. Obtaining a professional cleaning at your dentist at least two times per year can also help to prevent diseases of the mouth.

Michael Chopk, M.D.


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