importance of good oral health during retirement

The Importance of Good Oral Health During Retirement

The Importance of Good Oral Health During RetirementPoway and San Diego, CA

Did you know that more than 10,000 people retire in the United States every single day? Many individuals lose their dental insurance when they retire. Because they live on a fixed or otherwise limited income, many retirees may view dental care as a now-unnecessary expense.

Because of this trend, many dental practices are having to dedicate more and more of their professional resources to caring for elderly patients and educating them on the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene as they age.

In a recent article published on Forbes Magazine’s website exploring this issue, it was estimated that more than 70 percent of retiring baby boomers have no dental insurance, thus making it highly unlikely they maintain the recommended twice-yearly appointments for professional cleanings—as recommended by the American Dental Association.

What many people may not realize is that failing to maintain a high level of oral health can compromise your overall health, especially later in life. Missing teeth or issues with occlusion (bite) can affect the ability to chew, making malnutrition more likely and also causing speech problems, pain, or social isolation due to embarrassment over the way you look and talk.

For these reasons, gum disease runs rampant in the elderly population. Estimated to affect about 65 million total Americans, gum disease also has been found in as many as 70 to 80 percent of senior citizens. This magnifies the importance of maintaining a regular schedule of professional dental cleanings, which can reach and clean areas of the mouth that even the most conscientious brusher and flosser cannot reach.

Gum disease increases the risk factor of certain chronic, life-threatening ailments including cardiac disease. Poor oral health also can make you more vulnerable to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s. A July 2013 article in Medical News Today explored this issue, citing a study by the University of Central Lancashire in the United Kingdom that determined the presence of a bacteria in the brains of dementia patients. Why does that matter? This bacteria typically is associated with cases of chronic, serious gum disease.

Thanks to advances in dental science, receiving professional oral health care is more convenient than ever. That includes tooth replacement options and restorative dentistry, which has progressed far beyond the traditional remedy of dentures. Many of the stereotypes of going to the dentist have changed as a result, so erasing these misconceptions through education also is part of the mission statement for a dental practice that administers to older patients.

If you are approaching retirement age or have already retired, consider these tips to maintain a high level of oral health.

Seek out a dentist who caters to older patients, as they may be more aware of the changing oral care needs of the elderly. Also, consider investing in an ultrasonic toothbrush. This too can clean aging teeth and dental work more thoroughly, with less risk of damaging them.

At Smiles by Dr. Cook, we can care for patients of any age. Ready to learn more about the services we offer?

To schedule an appointment, please call (858) 673-0141 or contact Smiles by Dr. Cook today. We welcome patients of Poway, Carmel Mountain, and Rancho Bernardo, California.