While many people may not consider oral health critical to senior care, a Georgia dentist says it should be a fundamental component of every aging person's healthcare regimen.
Frank Roach, a dentist from Atlanta, Georgia, says there is a connection between oral care and senior health.
"Staying on top of oral health is critical to any person's overall health, but especially in elderly patients who don't have the ability to fight off bacteria and infections as easily as they used to," says Dr. Roach.
He explains that older patients with poor oral health may experience malnutrition, reduced social interactions, dysphagia, or other discomforting conditions.
"Poor oral health can also lead to much more severe illnesses such as tooth decay, xerostomia, oral cancer, or periodontal disease," Roach explains.
Dr. Roach suggests older people pay special attention to their oral health. Regular checkups with a dentist will help catch early warning signs of health problems and avoid unnecessary discomfort.
The loss of a person's teeth is more than just about esthetics. It can cause problems with jaw dimensions and nutrition. It also can result in discomfort both directly in the mouth and through headaches and other pains.
Research indicates that half to three-quarters of all nursing home residents keep their teeth well into their senior years. Many long-term care facilities don't have the resources, or the time, to provide the needed oral hygiene. The U.S. Surgeon General says 70% of long-term care residents are not provided with adequate dental care.
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