Gum health is one of the most important things to remember for seniors. Your risk of developing periodontal (gum) disease increases with age. The good news is that periodontal disease is both preventable and reversible in many cases. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious complications, such as bleeding or swollen gums, and even tooth loss. Even more alarming are the studies linking periodontal disease with serious illnesses.
We should take special care as we age to protect our teeth and gums from any future complications. Listed below are a few tips to ensure healthy gums as we age.
Health Effects of Periodontal Disease
There is a link between periodontal disease and serious health problems. Researchers from the University of Southampton and King’s College London found a link between periodontal disease and cognitive decline in people with early Alzheimer’s disease. The study found that patients with periodontal disease experienced cognitive decline six times as fast as those who did not.
Periodontal disease is also linked to an increased risk of heart disease or stroke. The risk of these serious health problems increases with age, among other causes, and it is especially important to limit potential risk factors. Regular dental cleanings and oral health screenings can ensure that your gums are healthy to avoid any health issues associated with gum disease.
Statistics to keep in mind
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that 14% of seniors aged 65 to 74 have moderate or severe periodontal disease. This percentage increases to more than 20% for seniors over 75. Periodontal disease was more prevalent in men than in women. In addition, smoking was found to be significantly associated with periodontal disease. In the same study, 32% of current smokers had periodontal disease, compared to 14% of non-smokers.
What You Can Do
As you age, it becomes increasingly important to take care of your gums. By doing so, you reduce your risk factors for serious ailments such as heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. A good oral hygiene routine will help maintain healthy gums by brushing twice a day for two minutes each and flossing daily. Flossing cleans the spaces between your teeth that your toothbrush cannot reach. Floss holders are available in many stores and may make flossing easier for some people.