Even if the loss of teeth increases with the age, the main cause is not attributable to the age, but mainly to the periodontal diseases and to the roots decays. Fortunately, thanks to the improvement of oral hygiene, and to regular consultations, the elderly can now keep healthy their natural teeth all their life.
Like at any age, it is appropriate for the elderly to eat enough dairy products, and products from each other group of food.
It is important to maintain a daily good oral hygiene by the brushing using a toothbrush with soft bristles, and fluoride toothpaste. When the motor function is reduced, the toothbrush can be adapted in order to ensure a better hold, and the use of an electric toothbrush can sometimes help.
No toothbrush can reach the contacts between the teeth, or the space between the gum and the tooth. Decays and gums diseases being able to develop in these parts, only the dental floss can complete the cleaning of these surfaces. The market offers a large array of thread devices which can simplify this task. The cracks of the tongue contain dead cells, biofilm (dental plaque), and food remains which can be eliminated only by using a toothbrush or a tongue scraper.
Visit to the dental hygienist
The visits every six or twelve months to the dental hygienist enable to detect the beginning of decays, gums diseases, and other oral affections (defective fillings, oral lesions, etc.). It is important to mention all your health problems, the drugs taken, the diagnosed diseases, the symptoms, etc. The advices, the preventive methods, the suggested treatments and the frequency of the visits will be thus customized even better for each one.
Periodontal diseases (gums and supporting bone of the tooth)
At the first stage, the gums diseases are often painless and not very detectable by you. Early detection and treatment make it possible to avoid the spread of the gums inflammation (gum disease) towards the support of the tooth (periodontal disease). The fall of oestrogens at the post-menopause causes a loss of osseous density being able to accentuate the predisposition to the periodontal disease. The untreated periodontal disease involves the osseous resorption, and can worsen until the loss of the teeth. Control of periodontal diseases protect the teeth, and also contribute to prevent the progression or the complications of other diseases (e.g.: diabetes).
According to many studies, the micro-organisms present during a periodontal disease, can migrate in blood circulation and be involved in cardiac diseases, cerebrovascular accidents, and pulmonary diseases.
The receding gums and the wear of teeth (by attrition, abrasion, and erosion) cause the exposure of the tooth surfaces the nervous terminations of which are less isolated (cement and dentine). This often involves the hypersensitivity of the teeth to the heat, the cold, the sweet, the acidity of citrus fruit, the tooth brushing, the pressure and the touch. The dental hygienist can help you to determine the cause and give you good solutions.
Removable dental prosthesis
The removable dental prosthesis (bridge or set of false teeth) must be brushed after each meal, using a soft brush. It is advised to remove them at least four hours per day, to massage the gums with a soft toothbrush, and to clean the tongue. A bad hygiene and the presence of microscopic mushrooms like for example “Candida Albicans”, can cause the inflammation of tissues under the dental prosthesis (prosthetic stomatitis). The continuous wearing of the prosthesis worsens this kind of inflammation.
Several factors can modify the retention in mouth of the prosthesis (oral dryness, osteoporosis of the bone of the jaw, weight loss, etc.). A bad retention involves the premature resorption of the bone, and the difficulty to chew can cause digesting troubles. A visit at the dental surgery once a year is desirable to, among other things, check and correct the adjustment of the prosthesis. The adhesive products sold without a prescription at the chemist’s, are only a temporary solution. In the case of a prolonged hospitalisation, it is advised to make engrave on the dental prosthesis, the name and first name of the holder.
Halitosis (bad breath)
The halitosis can be occasional or chronic, i.e. it persists in spite of a good oral hygiene. Hormonal changes, medical problems or drugs can modify the breath. However, the most frequent causes come from the oral cavity: bad hygiene, dental problems (e.g.: tooth decay, abscess, gum diseases, etc.), oral dryness, some types of food, alcohol, tobacco, etc.
A good daily oral hygiene, healthy customs of life, and professional cleanings and care in dental surgery can eliminate most of the origins of halitosis.
Xerostomia (oral dryness)
Having an antibacterial and antifungal power, the saliva ensures also the regulation of oral pH. Saliva decrease thus creates a discomfort, and deprives of an invaluable natural protection against oral affections. In some cases, the use of salivary substitute or the use of fluorine may be good. Xerostomia is attributable to various factors: medical conditions, medication, hormonal modifications, radiotherapy, etc.
Perhaps you belong to the 75% of smokers who wish to stop this habit, but who need assistance. Like all the other health professionals, the dental hygienist has information on this subject (documentation, centres of assistance, etc.). And, as the very first signs of the harmful effects of the tobacco appear at the level of the mouth, the smoker will be informed about his oral state at each visit.
The predisposition to oral cancer is more noticeable from the age of 45 years, and the main factors of risks are the tobacco addiction, the alcohol, the sun, bad food, the heredity, etc. The mouth and throat cancers have the characteristic to develop rapidly, and to be fatal if they are not detected early enough. Check regularly inside your mouth, and consult your dental professionals each year.