There is no way to reverse the aging process and as we grow older we often come across health concerns that can slow down our movement and change our appearance. Millions across the globe face health concerns that are connected with old age and they often have misconceptions about how things will eventually turn bad with each passing day. Tooth problems are common with elderly people and the prevalence of dental caries in India in the age group of 60 and above is more than 91.9%, as per the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) survey. Currently, the aging population in India is around 100 million plus. The survey also reveals that most senior citizens are unaware of the basic oral health information and have wrong notions about tooth and gum care which ultimately leads to oral health concerns. Hence, there is a greater need to generate more awareness about oral health and get rid of misconceptions related to it.
Let’s debunk 4 popular oral health myths related to aging in India.
Tooth Loss Is a Normal Part of Aging Process
One of the biggest myths related to tooth loss is that senior citizens are destined to lose their teeth, irrespective of their health condition. This myth is not just prevalent across India, but across the globe as many global citizens feel the same. However, the fact is that tooth loss is a result of an oral disease, not the aging process. There are elderly people who are healthier and have kept more of their natural teeth than their earlier generations. One of the reasons why most seniors lose their teeth is mainly because they never take their oral health problems seriously, which again is due to lack of awareness. Many seniors suffer from medical conditions like arthritis in hands and fingers which makes it difficult for them to brush and floss eventually impacting their oral health.
When You Grow Old You Get Dry Mouth
While dry mouth is usually associated with old age, but it is absolutely incorrect. Dry mouth (xerostomia) issues can affect people of all ages, but it is more prevalent in old age mainly due to the medications (decongestants, antihistamines, diuretics and antidepressants) that are consumed for various other health concerns. Although, dry mouth is not life threatening, it should not be taken lightly because saliva is a key and indispensable protector of the oral cavity. When the level of saliva drops, acidity level of the mouth increases leading to more dental caries and other issues. Good oral hygiene can take care of this problem naturally.
Bleeding Gums Are Normal While Aging
Another myth related to old people is that they suffer from bleeding gums and that is very normal because their gums grow weaker as they age. However, that is not true. Gum bleeding can occur due to various factors and it is not related only to aging. Elderly people do suffer from gum diseases which may lead to swollen gums. Similarly, if there is a missing tooth, food particles can get trapped in the tiny pockets near gums which may infect the gums later on. Brushing harder may also lead to gum bleeding especially during old age. Seniors who have lost many teeth believe that there is no need to visit a dentist since they have no infected teeth at all.
Periodontal Disease Cannot Be Treated in Elders
Periodontal disease can impact your smile as you grow old, but the fact that you cannot treat it after you are a senior citizen is false. With the combination of scaling to eliminate hardened plaque and infected gum tissue and antibiotics periodontal cases are treated successfully. Advanced dental methods using surgery can also help elderly people to get rid of their periodontal disease without any fuss.
To conclude, most dental myths related to senior citizens are mainly due to lack of awareness about oral health and hygiene. Additionally, people are not aware of the body-mouth connection and that the well-being of the aging mouth is closely connected to the overall health. Hence, staying healthy and keeping your mouth clean and healthy is the right way to ensure that you maintain that smile forever. Regular dental appointments are also important to keep check on your oral health.