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Is Healthy Aging Your Goal? A Healthy Mouth Should Be, Too

Source: National Council on Aging

Oral health is now recognized as an essential element of overall health in our rapidly growing older adult population. We know that a healthy mouth is not only important for basic comfort and appearance, but also for systemic health, nutrition, and social and psychological well-being.

In the aging process, tooth loss, gum disease, and other dental problems have historically been considered inevitable outcomes. But like many aspects of what people might consider “normal” aging, both tooth loss and poor oral health can be prevented. Prevention and patient education strategies — both for individuals and communities — are critical in oral health for older adults.

Older adults with poor oral health are at increased risk for aspiration pneumonia, poorly controlled diabetes, endocarditis, and inadequate nutrition, among other systemic health problems. Many medications commonly used by older adults also cause dry mouth, leading to tooth decay as well as impaired swallowing, speech, and taste. To maintain oral health, older adults need adequate daily oral hygiene and routine preventive visits with the dental team.

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) recently launched an oral health initiative to strengthen the understanding, awareness, and importance of appropriate oral care and the impact that all members of the health care and caregiver teams — including dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work, occupational and physical therapy, and other professions — may have on ensuring good oral care for older adults. Family members and friends can contribute as well.

About The GreenFields Continuing Care Community

The GreenFields Continuing Care Community provides for the physical, social, and spiritual needs of residents in a Christian environment. In addition to skilled nursingsubacute rehabilitation, and outpatient therapy at GreenField Health & Rehabilitation Center, The GreenFields offers a variety of living arrangements and support levels based on individual needs. This includes independent living apartments in GreenField Manor; assisted living apartments in GreenField Court; and memory care and enhanced assisted living in GreenField Terrace.

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