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Recommendations to preserve the oral health of the elderly

With the passage of age, the characteristics of the dentures of the elderly change, as well as care and treatment. Dental implants, rinses and bridges are some of the treatments that, together with proper oral hygiene, are key to preserving the oral health of the elderly.


Currently, with control and hygiene measures, cases of edentulism, partial or total loss of dental pieces, have been reduced. It is becoming less common to meet older people who wear dentures, but there are still treatments of the area of ​​odontogeriatrics that are the order of the day.


Factors such as the decrease of saliva, which encourages the creation and evolution of caries; wear on the surface of the teeth, which tend to break more easily; or the loss of bone and the recession of the gums, endanger the maintenance of teeth in the elderly.


This, together with taking medications, can have adverse effects on oral health. In addition, there are systemic or general pathologies such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis that are related to periodontal disease in the oral cavity.


On the other hand, 85% of cases of oral cancer occur in people over 50 years old, according to the Public Health Institute of the Ministry of Health of Madrid. Therefore, it is essential to transfer to the dentist any disease that is suffered or has been suffered, as well as the medication in use and passed, not only that referring to the mouth, in addition to lesions or color changes that have appeared in the oral cavity.


Dr. Uzquiza states that “root-level cavities are more common in older people, this coupled with the high prevalence of periodontal disease, makes it essential to maintain good hygiene, brushing three times a day and recurrent use of dental floss ”. Otherwise, there is a risk of dental loss, the effects of which may alter chewing, occlusion of the jaw, alterations in speech and early aging of the face.

To counteract the ravages of age on the denture, several treatments are usually carried out to preserve health and smile.


Mouthwashes: With age xerostomia or dry mouth occurs, especially with the taking of certain medications that inhibit saliva that prevents the proper elimination of bacteria. So it should be treated with mouthwashes, artificial saliva or moisturizers.


Dental implants: it is the usual method to replace lost teeth and occupy the space that has been free, recovering lost function and aesthetics. These implants also require good oral hygiene. Alcohol or tobacco can be harmful. Within dental implants we can find overdentures that are a type of dentures that are anchored on implants to improve their support, support, retention and stability. And they bring both structural and functional benefits.


Bridges on implants or on natural teeth: These are fixed prostheses to replace one or more teeth and that rest on those in the mouth or on implants.


Dentures: Although they are less and less frequent, they are still part of the treatments most applied to the elderly and their use can improve the general well-being and oral functions of edentulous patients.

Dr. Armellini received her dental degree from the Central University of Venezuela. She received an MBA from the University of Michigan and embarked on a clinical fellowship in Implantology Prosthodontics at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.


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