How Your Oral Health Affects Quality of Life

 “You are not healthy without good oral health.”
– Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop

For older adults, oral health can have a profound impact on their quality of life. Oral health issues can be painful and often make speaking, chewing, and swallowing difficult.

Pain from oral disease can restrict your day-to-day activities by making it difficult to sleep. Over time, untreated oral health problems can even lead to other health issues, including an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.

Poor Oral Health Diminishes Quality of Life

When oral diseases are left untreated, they often become major sources of discomfort and pain. Over time, abscesses and ulcerations may form, causing swelling, bleeding, pain and even tooth loss.

Understandably, tooth loss can be a particularly difficult adjustment.

Complications such as missing teeth, poorly fitting dentures, cavities, gum disease, or infection can make it more difficult – or even painful – for older adults to chew and swallow food. As a result, they may choose softer, easier-to-chew foods that are often high in saturated fats or cholesterol and lacking nutrients, especially when compared to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Over time, poor nutrition choices may cause even more oral health issues.

Improve Oral Health, Improve Quality of Life

Fortunately, most oral health problems can be prevented. To start, brush twice a day with a soft bristle toothbrush, and floss every day. You can also minimize your risk of developing tooth decay and other oral health issues by maintaining a healthy diet.

Pea-sized amount of toothpaste on toothbrush
Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, if you choose to use it.

If you’re a tobacco user, know that you’re at increased risk for oral health issues, including oral cancer. The best thing you can do to prevent these issues is to stop using tobacco.

Regular visits to a dentist or hygienist are also essential, as they can help detect problems like cavities before they become painful or grow into larger problems. Fluoride treatments and antimicrobial rinses, whether done by a dentist or at home with a fluoride rinse, can help strengthen teeth and prevent decay. Talk to your dentist to learn more about these options.

Use a non-alcoholic rinse with fluoride.

Finally, if you’re having trouble affording dental care, know that there may be options available to you. Check out our Find Care tool to locate affordable dental clinics in your area.

About the Author

Bonnie Rinkels

The information on this article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Tooth Wisdom® and Oral Health America do not recommend or endorse any specific dentists, products, procedures, opinions, or other information mentioned. See full Terms & Conditions.

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