Good oral health is important for the health and wellbeing of older people, particularly those with chronic and complex health conditions. As people get older, the need for dental care increases.
Some of the major issues affecting the oral health of older people are:
- The adverse impact poor oral health can have on general health
- The projected increase in treatment of tooth and gum diseases
- The adverse impact of chronic health conditions and medications on oral health
- The inequity of access to dental care arising from socio-economic and service distribution factors
- The low community and professional perceptions of the importance of oral health and care needs
- The increased ageing across the community
The link between general health and oral health is important. Problems with teeth, gums and dentures may significantly affect the overall wellbeing of an older person and their ability to age positively.
- Pain and difficulty with eating can lead to poor levels of nutrition
- A dry mouth may be caused by medications taken by older people and can affect appearance and lead to difficulty in speaking and eating
- Poor appearance and dental incapacity may lead to low self-esteem and social isolation.
- Poor oral health can compromise other health conditions, such as diabetes, aspiration pneumonia and cardiovascular disease
It is important for older people to maintain good oral hygiene. For those wearing dentures (false teeth), it is also important to maintain a healthy mouth and ensure that dentures fit well and are kept in good repair.
Ask your local community pharmacist for advice on the importance of oral health care, and what suits your needs best.
General information only, contact your health practitioner for your own circumstances
Reference: Department of Human Service, Victoria – www.dhsv.org.au