As Veteran’s Day rolls around, we are reminded of the enormous sacrifices made by our troops and their families. Throughout the history of the United States, many young men and women have been sent to war to protect our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Families have been left waiting for mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, wives and husbands to return home safely. We are eternally grateful for all our troops and the service they gave to this country. With the increasing aging population in the US, we are now faced with caring for those who so often laid their lives down on the line for us. Seniors face very different dental health problems than others. Here are 3 common issues our senior veteran’s face and how to battle them.
- Dry Mouth - Many seniors are on multiple medications for a variety of chronic illnesses or conditions. Over 400 prescription medications cause dry mouth, even simple ones such as decongestants. Dry mouth is more than just a minor inconvenience - as its name indicates, the condition deprives the mouth of saliva, which plays a critical role in preventing tooth decay. To help counter this, stay hydrated and limit intake of caffeine and alcohol. Chew sugar-free xylitol gum or suck on sugar-free candy to help wet your mouth.
- Cavities - Tooth decay is a very common chronic disease in people 65 years old and up. Adults now keep most of their teeth for a lifetime, but the risk for tooth decay increases as root surfaces become exposed and dry mouth takes away the protective benefits of saliva. In addition, many older adults don't go to the dentist as often as they used to, so cavities sometimes go untreated for longer than they should. Keeping regular dentist appointments is the key to getting cavities treated in a timely manner.
- Gum Disease - Gum disease typically becomes worse with increased age. Proper brushing and flossing can prevent gum disease.