Author: Kimberly N. Powell, DDS, MS
Poor oral health and poor general health coincide. A compromised oral cavity can negatively affect diabetes control and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. As the population ages, there is an increase in the prevalence of certain health conditions and oral maladies. Oral disease can significantly impact the quality of life for older adults, including pain, difficulty with mastication affecting the diet, and reduced socialization as a result of an altered appearance (Colgate Oral Health Network). To help prevent tooth loss, caries, periodontal disease, and the associated discomfort in the geriatric population, we must be aggressive in our care. Whether at home alone, with a caregiver, or in assisted living, it is necessary that proper oral hygiene procedures (i.e.brushing, flossing, rinsing) are being performed by the patient or caregiver, that routine appointments with dental professionals are attended, that it’s identified whether a manual or electric toothbrush is best due to patient’s dexterity, that caries and non-restorable teeth are being treated, that if needed prosthetics are fabricated to aid in maintaining proper nutrition, that caregivers are attentive to changes in the mouth. Prevention is important, but when the condition presents itself, intervention is imperative.