Oral health is much more important than you may have thought. Aside from cavities, gum disease and even oral cancer, there are a number of health problems you may not have realized can be traced back to having poor dental hygiene or damaged and missing teeth. Here are some less known conditions that can be caused by skipping the dentist.
- Weight Gain or Obesity
Damaged or missing teeth can mean you’re not chewing your food properly, or you’re limiting the types of food you can eat. People may be partial to foods that are easier to chew, which include high-fat options like fast food. Foods that are nutritious and high in fiber (fruits and vegetables) aren’t as easy to chew and swallow when your teeth aren’t up to the job.
- Higher Risk of Diabetes
According to the UK’s Daily Mail, tooth loss has been connected to a higher chance of developing diabetes—an 11-percent higher risk, to be more precise. This is due to inflammation in the bloodstream. Diabetes is the body’s inability to regulate its blood sugar, which can lead to more major health problems. To make matters worse, once you have diabetes, your chance of developing more serious oral health issues actually increases as well.
- Greater Chance of Heart Disease
You may not believe there’s a link between your teeth and your heart, but the American Dental Association (ADA) says a number of studies link poor oral health with poor heart health, although the reasons aren’t yet exactly known. While there is no hard scientific evidence to support whether bad oral hygiene contributes to a weaker heart, the ADA says you should still regard your teeth and gums as the gateway to diseases including those affecting your heart. Further studies are being performed by various groups to prove the link.
- Risk of Low Birth Weight
If you’re a pregnant woman, having poor oral health or gum disease can not only affect you, but also your next generation, according to Health Canada. The Canadian government body states that studies are currently underway to link poor oral health to premature births as well as low birth weight. Pre-term babies are at a higher risk of facing development barriers, infections, abnormalities and even infant death, according to Health Canada.
- Weakening of the Bones
Osteoporosis is a serious condition that causes your bones to become brittle, so you are much more likely to suffer a serious injury due to a fall or even from carrying out your daily routine.
The Mayo Clinic says there may be a link between osteoporosis—which affects your entire body—and the loss of teeth and periodontal bone that supports the teeth. Several studies support the fact that people with tooth loss and periodontal bone deficiencies also tend to show signs of a weakening skeleton in other parts of the body.
- Possible Respiratory Complications
Health Canada attributes some breathing problems with gum disease, which is caused by plaque that is actually a layer of bacteria that isn’t friendly to your mouth. Health Canada notes that bad bacteria can actually make its way from your mouth to your lungs, which is bad news for those with existing respiratory ailments and also for those with previously healthy lungs.
The respiratory difficulties from poor oral health particularly affects the elderly, but that doesn’t mean people of any age can be left gasping for air due to complications from gum disease that has gone untreated. If you’re having a hard time catching your breath lately, you may also want to see your dentist after consulting your physician.
- More Chance of Developing Dementia
That’s right, even your mental health can be negatively affected without the regular supervision of a dentist. The Alzheimer’s Society points to the importance of maintaining your oral health to help stave off the effects of Dementia, which causes confusion and memory loss. For those reasons, it’s also much more difficult for those with Dementia to maintain a proper oral care routine. The University of Central Lancashire School of Medicine and Dentistry also conducted a study that pinpointed bacteria from gum disease in the brain. The study found that of the 10 people with Dementia (and 10 without), almost half of those affected with the mental disorder had a particular type of bacteria, called Porphyromonas gingivalis, show up in their brains.
Planning for a hurricane or major storm is critical for those with a mobility disability. Seniors and disabled people in South Florida are just entering into Hurricane season which runs 6/1/17-11/30/17. Palm Beach and Broward County offer several resources for those with people disabilities. You should maintain a list of all emergency services and medications you may need.
Here are 5 Tips to prepare if you do have a mobility disability
- If you use a power wheelchair, if possible, have a lightweight manual chair available as a backup. Know the size and weight of your wheelchair in addition to whether or not it is collapsible, in case it has to be transported. Your home health aid may assist with finding the specs of your wheelchair.
- Purchase an extra battery for a power wheelchair or other battery-operated medical or assistive technology devices. If you are unable to purchase an extra battery, find out what agencies, organizations, or local charitable groups can help you with the purchase. Keep extra batteries on a trickle charger at all times.
- Consider keeping a patch kit or can of sealant for flat tires and/or extra inner tube if wheelchair or scooter is not puncture proof. (from Nusura/CalEMA)
- Keep an extra mobility device such as a cane or walker, if you use one.
- If you use a seat cushion to protect your skin or maintain your balance, and you must evacuate without your wheelchair, take your cushion with you. Your companion care assistant will help with these details.
See our Senior Resources for important services in you live in Broward or Palm Beach County.
The likelihood that you and your family will recover from an emergency tomorrow often depends on the planning and preparation done today. Living in Palm Beach and Broward County we are especially aware of this as we enter into hurricane season. Seniors and families with special care and/or medical needs have to take into account possible long term power outages and limited ability to get access to medications after a storm. While each person’s abilities and needs are unique, every individual can take steps to prepare for all kinds of emergencies. By evaluating your own personal needs and making an emergency plan that ﬁts those needs, you and your loved ones can be better prepared.
There are commonsense measures older Americans can take to start preparing for emergencies before they happen. Create a network of neighbors, relatives, friends and co-workers to aid you in an emergency. Discuss your needs and make sure everyone knows how to operate necessary equipment. If appropriate, discuss your needs with your employer.
Seniors should keep specialized items ready, including extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, catheters, medication, food for service animals and any other items you might need. Keep a list of the type and model numbers of the medical devices you require. Be sure to make provisions for medications that require refrigeration such as coolers and ice-packs. Make arrangements well ahead of time if you need any assistance to get to a shelter or special assistance.
For more information, read Ready.gov’s Preparing Makes Sense For Older Americans or visit the Red Cross website