Oak Tree Dentistry
Pritpal Gill, DDS

What Role Does Nutrition Play in Senior Oral Health?

December 22, 2022
Posted By: Dr. Pritpal Gill

As with all aspects of health, good oral health can become more challenging with age, but with the proper care from your Lodi dentist, you can continue smiling and enjoy exceptional oral health well into your golden years.

Part of the enjoyment of aging is spending time with friends and loved ones over a nice dinner or on a family vacation. Poor oral health and tooth loss can impact what you order from your favorite menu and how you smile for those timeless photos with loved ones.

Dr. Pritpal Gill is dedicated to helping seniors maintain excellent oral health with individualized preventive, general, and cosmetic dentistry treatment planning.

Aging and Tooth Loss

One of the common causes of poor overall health is diet. Unfortunately, with age, the risk of tooth loss increases, and tooth loss can lead to further challenges with nutrition. However, this cycle is not impossible to break, and at Oak Tree Dentistry, we offer tooth replacement options for every lifestyle.

  • Fixed dental bridges
  • Dental implants
  • Traditional dentures or partials
  • All-on-4 dentures

Studies show that seniors who have lost their teeth, or who lack adequate function, face a 21% increased risk of malnutrition compared to those who have functional dentistry. Dr. Gill aims to help patients of every age and life stage enjoy the foods that contribute to a healthy diet.

  • Fresh vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Lean proteins
  • Healthy grains
  • Calcium-rich dairy

Even if you have a specialized diet, perhaps vegetarian or gluten-free, having a variety of food choices on the entire range of your preferred diet contributes to a more balanced diet, improved nutrition, and better overall health as a result.

Some of the healthiest foods and drinks, according to the University of Illinois Chicago, include:

Water – Not only does fluoridated water found in most municipalities help prevent tooth decay, but staying hydrated also improves saliva production. Saliva helps prevent both tooth decay and gum disease by keeping the pH of the mouth regulated and moist.

Crunchy vegetables – Fresh, crunchy veggies like carrots and celery stimulate the gums, act as a squeegee on the teeth, and support a healthy body. Carrots are also high in vitamin c and antioxidants, which support gum health.

Leafy greens – Dark, leafy greens are vital for people who eat a plant-based diet because they contain rich calcium, folic acid, and minerals to support the body and dental health.

Apples and pears – Fruits rich in fiber, like apples and pears, help neutralize acids in the mouth. Because fiber and nutrients are contained in the whole fruit, they are a better alternative than juice, which is high in sugar and acid.

Nuts, fish, and meat – In addition to the protein found in these foods, they also contain omegas, and the chewing process involved in eating meats and nuts produces mouth-healthy saliva.

Which Tooth Replacement Option Is Best?

If you read the above list of healthy foods and find your diet is lacking due to tooth loss, you might wonder which tooth-replacement option will work best for your situation. Much of that depends on you, your lifestyle, and your goals for your oral health.

While dental implants and dental bridges are popular choices to replace single missing teeth or a small number of missing teeth, more and more, patients missing all of their teeth on the upper or lower arch may choose all-on-4 implant-retained dentures.

What Makes All-on-4 a Good Choice to Replace Teeth?

One of the chief complaints of patients who choose traditional dentures to replace their missing teeth is the challenge of shifting and falling dentures. This can cause food to become trapped between the denture and the palate, leading to an emergency trip to the restroom during an important meal or social gathering.

All-on-4 dentures use four or more dental implants to hold dentures in place. This stabilizes the entire structure, meaning dentures that don’t move or shift. This can expand the dietary choices of people experiencing tooth loss and support improved overall health.

All-on-4 can also stabilize certain locations in the bone structure of the jaw. Since a dental implant acts like a natural tooth, bone stimulation can slow the progression of bone resorption, preserving valuable bone that supports the denture and facial structures.

The Emotional Consequences of Tooth Loss

One uncomfortable consequence of tooth loss is the toll it can take on the social life of seniors. As we age, our social circles tend to shrink due to death, illness, and relocation of friends and family. Because tooth loss can cause people to feel self-conscious about their appearance, they may tend to isolate themselves more than ever.

This impacts overall well-being. We saw during the COVID-19 pandemic that isolation can contribute to mental illnesses like depression. The CDC determined that social isolation can increase the risk of death by any cause.

Dentistry for Seniors in Lodi

At Oak Tree Dentistry, our entire team is dedicated to elevating the health and well-being of the seniors in our community. If you, or someone you know, needs a dentist with a particular interest in helping seniors thrive, we invite you to contact our Elk Grove or Lodi dental offices today. And if you have a senior neighbor or friend, it’s always good to check in with them to see how they are doing.

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