For Older Patients, Dry Mouth a Serious Concern
When it comes to providing family dental care in Beaverton, our team at Barrett Family Dental strive to protect the oral health of patients both young and mature. Unfortunately, many seniors fail to provide their oral health with the same kind of attention as they do when even just a few years younger. For many seniors who struggle with poor oral health, tooth loss, dentures, and problems eating are just a natural part of growing older.
This is a dangerous mindset for many seniors to accept as it makes oral health problems seem out of their control. In truth, there are many factors that come into play that greatly influence senior oral health. One of the most common and overlooked is prescription medication related dry mouth.
Suffering from dry mouth can be a common side effect of many commonly prescribed medications for seniors, according to a recent survey. Patients who suffer from dry mouth don’t naturally produce enough saliva to keep their mouths adequately moist. Dry mouth can lead to persistent problems with daily activities like eating, chewing, talking, and swallowing. What’s more troubling is that dry mouth also increases an individual’s risk for oral infections and tooth decay.
As we grow older, many of us need to take more prescription medications to help with everything from controlling our blood pressure to treating insomnia. The more medications we take that cause dry mouth as a symptom, the worse our oral health slowly becomes. It’s little wonder then that so many seniors seem to think that poor oral health is unavoidable when the medications they take to stay healthy inadvertently undermine the health of their teeth and gums.
An Uncertain Association
For all the evidence researchers have been able to collect regarding prescription medications and dry mouth, there’s still much that remains unknown. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society reviewed 52 related studies to discover more about what connects these health issues. The researchers discovered that there are a number of medications that cause dry mouth. These medications are used to treat a variety of health issues that range from such diverse problems as anxiety, depression, incontinence, insomnia, and high blood pressure.
In fact, researchers discovered that medications used to treat urinary incontinence were almost six times more likely to cause dry mouth when compared to a placebo. Researchers involved in the study suggested that health care providers should do more to monitor their patients’ oral health and review all medications for potential adverse side effects. General health care providers should then be more willing to adjust or change medications to avoid such serious side effects.
Protecting Senior Oral Health
A future of eating problems, tooth loss, and dentures is not unavoidable. Enjoying a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums does, however, require staying dedicated to practicing a quality daily oral hygiene routine. This means brushing at least twice a day for the appropriate amount of time – at least two minutes – and flossing daily.
Of course, while brushing and flossing are the best habits you can practice at home, you still need to receive regular family dental care in Beaverton. Regular exams and cleanings allow our team to spot the early signs of dental decay and disease while still easily treatable. Prevention is always more preferable compared to treatment, so spotting these signs early on will help to prevent more serious issues from developing.
Your oral health matters throughout your life. Don’t accept poor oral health as a matter of growing older. By receiving family dental care in Beaverton regularly and practicing quality oral hygiene at home, you’ll enjoy a great looking smile for a lifetime.