Wellness

Getting Older? Watch for Dental, Vision and Hearing Changes

Senior Citizens smiling

The Golden Years are often described as the best years of life – a time when many Americans take a break from full-time employment to pursue other activities or dreams. While seniors look forward to the freedom of retirement, they need to continue to take care of their dental, vision and hearing health.

Dental

  • Cavities – As you age, gum tissue may shrink and expose the roots of your teeth to decay; medications may reduce the natural flow of saliva in your mouth, causing more food particles to stick to teeth and possibly lead to decay; daily brushing and flossing is essential to maintain good oral health and avoid cavities, gingivitis and periodontal disease
  • Gum sensitivity – As gum tissue recedes, the roots of the teeth are exposed and you may experience more sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures; your dentist may recommend the use of a special mouth rinse or toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth
  • Oral cancer – The risk of oral cancer increases with age; lesions in the mouth may develop into cancer; individuals who smoke or consume alcohol have an increased chance for oral cancer
  • Tooth loss – For a variety of reasons, older people often suffer from tooth loss and require dental assistance to avoid problems chewing food or misshapen facial muscles; for many decades it was popular for seniors to have their teeth pulled and dentures made but, today, dental professionals prefer to have seniors keep their natural teeth as long as possible; if a tooth needs to be pulled due to excessive decay or injury, dentists may use a partial denture, bridge or implant as a replacement

Vision

  • Eye diseases – As our eyes age, there is a higher risk of eye disease; if left untreated, these diseases may significantly impact vision or cause blindness, underscoring the importance of scheduling an eye exam every one to two years; common eye diseases are glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy; individuals with diabetes, high blood pressure or family history of eye disorders have an increased threat of contracting an eye disease and may be advised by their eye doctor to schedule more frequent exams
  • Low vision – The structure of the eye changes as we get older; the pupil gets smaller, reducing the amount of light that reaches the retina, which affects the crispness of our vision; brighter lights in rooms will make it easier for older individuals to adjust to this vision change

Hearing

  • Impairment – Older individuals frequently complain about hearing problems, which may change their willingness to communicate with others and affect their quality of life, safety and independence; treatment solutions usually include hearing aids, assistive listening devices or surgery to correct any medical issues; scheduling a regular hearing exam is the best preventive step to detect hearing problems

The retirement years are often accompanied by dental, vision and hearing problems as the body ages. Fortunately, medical researchers have identified treatment options that may help cure or make the problem manageable. The key to finding the right solution is to schedule regular exams with health professionals who can evaluate your concerns and identify the best options for care.

If you, or someone you know, are older and have experienced dental, vision or hearing problems, what was the concern and what treatment options were pursued? – Scott Delisi, Ameritas Group

Leave a comment