Screen Shot 2018-04-13 at 9.56.56 AM

Dry Mouth and Its Effects on the Oral Health of Elderly People

Dry mouth is incredibly uncomfortable, but can it lead to more serious complications? Actually, yes.

Dry mouth, medically referred to as xerostomia, all by itself can be indicative of several problems for people of any age. For the elderly, this situation can not only be a symptom of other health issues; it can actually cause other health issues.

At our dental clinic in Lachine, we educate our patients about the things that can be causing their discomforts while we work to minimize or eliminate oral health issues.

Here are a few things you should know about dry mouth and its effects on the elderly:

What’s the Purpose of Saliva?

Saliva has an important job within the human body. It helps break down food and wash particles away so they don’t get stuck around the gumline.

When there’s not enough natural mouthwash, the particles stick around and turn into plaque, which can later transform into gingivitis (gum disease).

It also plays a role in ensuring bad-breath causing bacteria don’t linger inside people’s mouths.

While none of these situations are pleasant at any age, they’re particularly risky for the elderly because:

  • Dentures require strong gum walls. Gingivitis weakens gums, which ultimately will cause them to loosen, or worse, not stay in at all.
  • Decay spreads quickly in people who experience dry mouth. Seniors who have never had a single cavity in their entire lives may begin to experience cavities and decay rapidly.
  • Dry mouth causes sores. Elderly people are often susceptible to weaker immune systems than younger people. Couple that with the fact that their healing times can be significantly longer, and oral sores can become a painful, long-lasting problem.
  • Pain can cause a decrease in appetite. People who experience pain when they chew, swallow, or simply open their mouths are likely to avoid meals, which provide crucial nutrients and minerals that keep their entire bodies strong and healthy. Food may also become tasteless and bland as bacteria settles onto the tongue.

As people age, healthy diets are imperative to sustaining independence and properly functioning organs. An inability to eat well-rounded meals can cause a domino-effect of poor health.

Centre Dentaire is the dental clinic Lachine residents of all ages trust with their oral healthcare needs. From administering regular cleanings to providing educational resources, we’re here to ensure you have everything you need to smile brightly. Get to know our team today!