Oral health is a critical component to overall health for all ages, but according to a new report, vigilance is especially critical for the elderly.
In a review article recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the authors outline the potential complications that can arise from poor oral hygiene in older adults.
Data from the National Center for Health Statistics indicates that the prevalence of cavities is more than twice as high in older adults as in younger adults. The prevalence of periodontitis—a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and destroys the bone that supports your teeth—also increases with age. As many as 64% of older adults in the U.S. have periodontitis.
Periodontitis is associated with a variety of medical conditions including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Patients with replacement heart valves and prosthetic joints should be particularly careful regarding their oral hygiene, according to the authors.
Without good oral hygiene, the use of fluoride, and regular dental care, older adults are more prone to damage to the oral cavity and the extension of infection into surrounding tissues.
Tooth loss can affect a person’s ability to chew, which can lead to malnutrition. Chronic oral infection is a recognized risk factor for heart disease, and can also lead to the spread of infection to artificial joints and endocardial implants.
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