As we age, we become more and more susceptible to a number of health problems, especially when it comes to our dental health. Our chances of developing root decay, gum disease, dry mouth, tooth loss, and a host of other dental issues increase the older we get. That’s why dental coverage is important for aging parents, and you should make it a priority to ensure your parents are getting the dental care they need to live out their golden years in good health.
Here are four illnesses that can arise due to untreated dental issues:
1. Heart Disease
Good oral hygiene can prevent heart disease in seniors, and having adequate dental coverage can help your parents avoid getting it in some cases. Heart disease can occur when an infection in the mouth travels to the inner lining of the heart, leading to a condition known as endocarditis, which can put unnecessary strain on your heart. Make sure your parents are taking care of their oral health to avoid heart disease.
2. Gum Disease
Researchers believe there’s a connection between heart disease and gum disease. The latter is caused by food and plaque left in your teeth. Gum disease can also be caused by using tobacco products, so if your parents are smokers, that’s even more of a reason to get them the proper dental coverage they need. Poor eating habits (like an unhealthy diet), diabetes, cancer, anemia, or dentures and bridges that don’t fit properly are also causes of gum disease.
3. Root Decay
Root decay is common among seniors and can be caused by acidic foods that wear away the enamel of their teeth, such as soda, fish, grains, fresh and processed meats, high-protein foods and supplements, and certain fruit juices like lemon juice, pineapple juice, and orange juice. As we age, the gums can recede, which can lead to tooth roots becoming more exposed than usual. And our roots don’t have the same protective layer of enamel that our teeth do, which makes them more prone to decay.
Pneumonia is another serious complication associated with poor dental health and hygiene. Since air has to pass through your mouth and throat in order to enter your lungs, oftentimes, it’s possible that you could inhale bacteria into your lungs. Seniors are more vulnerable because they have weakened immune systems compared to younger people.
Finding the Right Dental Coverage
Skipping routine dental care, such as cleanings and fillings, can often lead to painful and unnecessary, unplanned dental procedures, such as root canals, bridges, or crowns. Finding the right dental coverage is important so that your parents get dental coverage based on their unique, individual needs. Certain Medicare plans don’t come with dental coverage (such as Medicare Parts A and B). However, you can get a Medicare dental plan through Anthem, a Medicare-approved insurance company. There’s also the option of adding on a dental insurance plan separately to a Medicare plan.
Once you get dental coverage for your parents, make sure they’re going to the dentist regularly and using an antibacterial mouthwash. Also, be sure they brush twice a day and floss once daily to avoid any of the previously mentioned diseases or ailments.
Dental coverage is important for anyone of any age, but it’s particularly important for seniors because of their weakened immune systems. That’s why it’s important to make sure your elderly parents are taking care of their overall health, which includes their dental health. Help them get the right dental care plan they need to ensure they live happy, healthy lives in their retirement years.