Older Chinese Patients at Higher Risk for Poor Oral Health

For older people, the problems caused by poor oral health can be multifold. Recent studies have linked poor oral health in seniors to fatal diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, not to mention diabetes, cancer and heart disease. But two new studies have revealed more troubling evidence that poor oral health in seniors – especially those in vulnerable populations such as lower-socioeconomic and immigrant populations – can have dangerous consequences.

The two new studies found that older Chinese patients living in the United States with poor oral health have higher rates of conditions like hypertension (high blood pressure), cognitive decline (a precursor to dementia) and depression.

The two studies were conducted at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, by Darina Petrovsky, Bei Wu and Weiyu Mao. They examined data from more than 2,700 Chinese American participants over the age of 60. What they found was that almost half of the participants had some kind of problem with their teeth, and those with oral health problems reported having problems with memory decline and cognition.

The study also found that nearly 19 percent of participants had gum issues, over 15 percent had both teeth and gum issues, and a quarter of participants had dry mouth. Those patients with dry mouth also had poor overall oral health and experienced higher rates of stress.

Dr. Allison Lesko of Fort Collins, Colorado, says the study is very telling when it comes to highlighting the importance of oral health in seniors.

“Though this study was done on a very specific population – Chinese senior citizens living in America – it can be universally applied to other senior immigrant populations,” Lesko says.

Though researchers said part of the problem faced by seniors in this demographic is both a lack of dental insurance coverage and a language barrier between patients and American dentists, the problem is universal in that many seniors are unable to visit the dentist regularly.

The other element to the study, the discovery that stress may play a dangerous role in dry mouth, may have other solutions, as well as causes.

“Researchers recommend older people reach out to family and friends in times of stress to help reduce the stress and hopefully some of the dry mouth symptoms, but stress isn’t the only cause of dry mouth,” Lesko says. “Things like medication can cause dry mouth, and many seniors take medication each day, which is why it’s imperative we are working to get seniors to the dentist. A dentist can identify the medications that could be causing dry mouth and offer solutions to remedy it.”


3 Signs It’s Time for a Dental Checkup

When you begin to feel something is amiss in your mouth, it’s probably due to an underlying issue and it may be time to get help ASAP!

You shouldn’t wait and hope it will go away on its own as it could turn into something much more serious. Most times, it’s very much advantageous to tackle the problem at the earliest possible stages. Here are three signs it’s time to schedule a dental checkup right away:

1. Dry mouth

We all have experienced this “cotton mouth” feeling at some point. However, a chronic dry mouth is a more serious condition that, when left untreated, can have consequences.

Dry mouth was by far the most commonly reported oral ailment in a recent survey conducted by the American Dental Association of 15,000 adults in the United States. Dry mouth was especially reported by older people. In cases like this, the salivary glands are usually unable to produce enough saliva to fight mouth diseases and neutralize mouth acids.

This condition at times can be caused by changes in medications as well as some other systemic conditions. You should seek treatment as soon as possible so you don’t put yourself at the mercy of tooth decay or periodontal disease. If you feel like your mouth feels abnormally dry on a regular basis, talk to your dentist and book a dental checkup right away.

2. Tooth pain

About one-third of the people surveyed by the ADA pointed out tooth pain as their greatest oral problem. Most times, this is caused by an abscessed gum, a decayed tooth or similar conditions.

This won’t go away on its own, and in most cases delaying treatment may complicate things even further as well. If your tooth suddenly begins to cause pain, consider getting a dental checkup immediately.

3. Chewing difficulty

If you’re finding it difficult to bite and chew, you’re not alone. Many of the ADA survey respondents revealed this as a major dental problem.

Like the case with tooth pain, chewing difficulty could be caused by a decayed tooth, a cracked or loose tooth, as well as the jaw joint disorder temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJD/TMD.

TMJD can make it quite difficult for sufferers to bite and chew, which can also impact nutrition.

Regular dental checkups have huge benefits. Many times, your dentist may be able to identify problems before they even manifest or become a more serious problem.

If you have any of these oral health issues affecting your comfort, make an appointment right away for a proper dental checkup. You can schedule a visit or contact us today at 970-812-0355 for more information.


Why Does Dry Mouth Matter?

Everyone experiences it from time to time: the feeling of a dry mouth. Sometimes it’s caused by something simple like sleeping with your mouth open, and a glass of water is all you need to restore balance. For some people, certain medications can cause dry mouth that can’t be reversed without switching prescriptions.

Regardless of what causes your dry mouth, the bottom line is that it’s more than just annoying, it’s actually really harmful for your teeth, and over time it could even lead to conditions that cause tooth loss.

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