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Explain a Dental Related Activity Can Be Done With Senior Citizens

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As we age there are some things that we tend to let fall by the wayside. Dental health seems to be one of the personal hygiene steps that can be forgotten. Since dental health is connected to whole-body health, it’s important that senior loved ones have someone to remind — or help — them keep their oral health a priority. Senior dental problems can be common, from dry mouth to periodontal disease, and since oral health directly impacts the health of the rest of the body, these issues need to be taken seriously

Taking care of elderly teeth and gums is just as important as digestive or heart health.

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The health status of adults older than age 65 years can be quite variable, ranging from functional independence to frail or cognitively impaired. According to the U.S

Administration on Aging, over 40% of noninstitutionalized adults aged 65 years or older assessed their health as excellent or very good (compared to 55% for persons aged 45 to 64 years). Most older persons have at least one chronic condition and many have multiple conditions.9 In the time period up to and including 2013, the most frequently occurring conditions among older persons were: hypertension (71%), arthritis (49%), heart disease (31%), any cancer (25%), and diabetes (21%). A 2015 report by the World Health Organization listed conditions common to older age, including hearing loss, cataracts and refractive errors, back and neck pain and osteoarthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, depression, and dementia. Physiologic changes that are age related include changes to cellular homeostasis, including regulation of body temperature and blood and extracellular fluid volumes; decreases in organ mass; and decline in or loss of body system functional reserves. Changes to the gastrointestinal system include decreases in intestinal blood flow and gastric motility and increased gastric pH. Renal, cardiovascular, respiratory, central nervous, and/or immune systems may show decreased function (e.g., decreases in glomerular filtration, cardiac output, lung capacity, sympathetic response, cell-mediated immunity).These changes may have an effect on medication absorption and metabolism or an individual’s sensitivity to certain medications. Physical changes associated with aging include decreased bone and muscle mass. Osteoarthritis may result in limitations in mobility. Visual changes may include age-related macular degeneration, presbyopia, cataracts, glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy. Patients may experience age-related hearing loss, which may affect their ability to communicate. Postural reflexes can become dampened, and falls become more common in elderly individuals.

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Aging is a natural process. Old age should be regarded as a normal, inevitable biological phenomenon. As a result of the advances made in medicine and public health measures in the last half of the 20th century, there is a substantial increase in the life span of man. Elders above 65 years (old age) have health problems as a result of aging process, which calls for special consideration. During the latter half of the 20th century, the age composition of the population changed dramatically, with more people living to older ages and the older population getting older. This demographic change will have a major impact on the delivery of general and oral-health care, as well as on the providers of these services. Although some older adults have physical and/or psychological conditions that require special attention in the dental office setting, one should not assume that all older people share these conditions (Park K. 21st)

According to the WHO, the global population is increasing at the annual rate of 1.7%, while the population of those over 65 years is increasing at a rate of 2.5%. Both the developed, as well as the lesser-developed countries, are expected to experience significant shifts in the age distribution of the population by 2050. The fastest growing population segment in most countries is the adults older than 80 years, which according to the United Nations estimates will make up nearly 20% of the world’s population (Soini H, Routasalo P, 2003).

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Overall, daily brushing and flossing of natural teeth is essential to keeping them in good oral health. Plaque can build up quickly on the teeth of seniors, especially if oral hygiene is neglected, and lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Age in and of itself is not a dominant or sole factor in determining oral health. However, certain medical conditions, such as arthritis in the hands and fingers, may make brushing or flossing teeth difficult to impossible to perform

Drugs can also affect oral health and may make a change in your dental treatment necessary.

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Harris NO. 6th ed. New York: Prentice Hill; 1999. Primary Preventive Dentistry.

Park K. 21st ed. Jabalpur: Bhanot Publishers; 2011. Preventive and Social Medicine.

Panchbhai AS. Oral health care needs in the dependant elderly in India. Indian J Palliat Care. 2012;18(1):19–26.

National Programme for the Health Care of the Elderly (NPHCE) Directorate General of Health Services Ministry of Health &Family Welfare Government of India

Soini H, Routasalo P, Lauri S, Ainamo A. Oral and nutritional status in frail elderly. Spec Care Dentist. 2003;23:209–15

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