• Medicare Advantage plans typically offer hearing, vision and dental coverage. These plans aren’t right for everyone, so look at offerings in Arkansas to see what may work for you.
• Delta Dental’s individual plans offer affordable dental benefits directly to individuals and families who need non-employer coverage.
You probably know by now that your oral health is connected to your overall health. But, do you know how lack of oral health care for the elderly can
lead to disease in old age?
Researchers have found that the bacteria and inflammation in your teeth and gums are linked to heart disease, diabetes, and even dementia. That’s right, dental plaque and dementia could be linked!
When sticky plaque on your teeth combines with sugars, the bacteria release acid that attacks your tooth’s enamel. Plaque buildup can lead to gum disease, gingivitis, and heart disease. When left untreated, severe gum disease can develop. If that occurs, the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth and allows bad bacteria to destroy the underlying bone, compromising all that supports your teeth.
Gum disease has also been found to increase the risk of dementia later in life. Researchers have found that periodontal problems may also be associated with milder cognitive impairment, such as memory problems. This can make activities of daily life, like brushing teeth, more difficult.
While the findings show no direct correlation between dental plaque and dementia, it did show that “people who had chronic gum inflammation for 10 or more years were 70 percent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those without periodontitis.”
As you age, it can become increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy mouth as mobility and dexterity issues increase and dentist trip funds decrease. So, how can elderly focus on good oral health care for themselves?
Maintain a Good Routine — If you’re able, make sure to keep up on a proper oral hygiene routine, which includes brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist for regular checkups.
Budget Wisely — Make sure to set some money aside for annual visits to your health providers, including your dentist.
Solicit Help — Caregivers can make sure that seniors make it to regular dental visits and keep up a proper oral hygiene routine. They are also particularly helpful to seniors with mobility issues. They can help brush, floss, and rinse with mouthwash. In addition, caregivers can prepare foods that promote good oral and overall health.
Do you or someone you know live in a managed home? Collaboration between dentists and facilities allows seniors to receive treatment and regular dental checkups. This eliminates the need to travel to and from the dentist’s office and helps patients feel more comfortable.
Whether considering in-home care, moving into a care facility, or still independently living at home, proper oral health care for the elderly is vital to having a healthy body.
Editor's Note: Content updated January 2019.