ORAL HEALTH IS VERY IMPORTANT AS WE AGE
Did you know the risk of cavities increases as we age?
Why does dry mouth contribute to tooth decay?
One of the reasons risk of tooth decay increases with age is a condition called dry mouth. This is a common side effect of many prescription medications taken more commonly later in life. Dry mouth is caused by not having enough saliva in your mouth. Without enough saliva, chewing, eating, swallowing and even talking can be difficult. Dry mouth increases the risk for tooth decay because saliva helps keep harmful germs that cause tooth decay and other oral infections in check. Saliva also contains minerals (calcium and phosphate) that can help reverse early decay. And, if you have dentures, dry mouth can make them uncomfortable and they may not fit as well. Without enough saliva, dentures can also rub against the gums and cause sore spots.
Is there a connection between oral health and heart health?
Research continues to uncover connections that indicate why maintaining good oral health is also good for heart health. These connections are especially important to older adults who have a higher risk of heart disease. Several studies have shown that periodontal disease can increase the risk for heart disease. Periodontal disease can also exacerbate existing heart conditions. The link between these diseases is related to inflammation, or swelling of gums or other tissues, caused by bacteria in the mouth leading to gingivitis, and periodontitis (gum disease) if left untreated. Studies show that the bacteria found in periodontal disease, including Streptococcus sanguis, also play a role in strokes, and can spread throughout the body, including the heart.
Many older adults have periodontal disease caused by the bacteria in plaque, which irritate the gums, making them swollen. If left untreated, gums can begin to pull away from the teeth and form deepened spaces called pockets where food particles and more plaque may collect. Advanced periodontal disease can eventually destroy the gums, bone and ligaments supporting the teeth leading to tooth loss.