Dental care is important during every stage of life—including the golden years. Seniors (those 60 years old and above) should still focus on maintaining a healthy mouth and pay attention to the condition of their teeth and gums daily. This is why we as an office decided to put together a list of senior dental care tips and conditions to look out for.
Advances in dentistry have given seniors the opportunity to hang onto their real teeth for much longer than they used to. With the development of better toothbrushes, toothpaste, and flosses, seniors are now more than ever less likely to lose teeth.
And while advances have been made, proper care and attention still need to be given to oral health. We’ll give you some tips on what to look out for and how to keep your teeth (or your grandparent’s or parent’s teeth) just as sparkling as the days of their youth!
Conditions to Look out For
Dry Mouth – A result from changes within the body as it ages or also caused by certain medications that have dry mouth as a side effect. Dry mouth can increase the risk of many diseases due to a lack of saliva in the mouth that can breed bacteria.
Darkened Teeth – When dentin (bone-like material under tooth enamel) changes as you age, so can tooth color. When the enamel begins to thin, yellowed teeth show through. Foods, beverages and bad habits which have stained teeth become more apparent.
Tooth Loss – Typically caused by gum disease, this is preventable by practicing good dental hygiene each day.
Wear and Tear – You’ve chewed and ground your teeth for a lot of years, and even though teeth are super strong, this kind of continuous wear and tear can happen with age. Enamel wearing down is a leading cause of cavities, so be mindful when inspecting your teeth.
Disease – Oral cancer, which can be screened for and taken care of with preventative care measures. Minor diseases like Thrush, a white rash inside the mouth caused by Candida (a bacteria).
Root Decay – Caused from receding gums. When the roots of the teeth are exposed to bacteria and foreign objects in the mouth, roots can decay.
Denture-induced Stomatitis – If you’re a senior with ill-fitting dentures, be on the lookout for this. Poor oral hygiene and a buildup of bacteria in the mouth can cause this inflammation of the tissue under the denture.
The most important senior dental care tip we can give is to brush, floss and rinse every day. Continue the habits that were instilled upon you when you were younger, or, if they weren’t, there’s no better time to start. Remember to brush at least twice each day, floss at least once and use an antiseptic mouthwash to rinse.
Visit your dentist regularly for a good cleaning and an oral exam to make sure everything in your mouth is healthy. If you’re worried about going to the dentist or it’s been a while, look for a dentist that uses Oral Sedation Dentistry and has a calming environment and caring staff.
Aside from the general best practices to maintain your oral health, there are a few tips you can use to make sure your teeth and mouth are healthy throughout your entire life:
- Increase fluoridation – Adding more fluoride to your oral hygiene routine will increase your chances of maintaining a healthy mouth. Fluoride can be found in toothpaste and rinses, so incorporate those into your daily routine. You may even be able to find water that has added fluoride in it to boost your fluoride intake as well.
- Don’t use tobacco – Tobacco is linked to mouth and throat cancer, heart disease and a plethora of other conditions. And we’re not just talking about cigarettes—chewing tobacco is the culprit of more decay and gum disease. Even if you’re a senior, you can quit and increase your chances of better oral health now.
- Stay hydrated – If it’s your medication that’s causing the problem, check with your doctor and see if it can be substituted for a different medication. If this isn’t the cause, or there’s no alternate medication, drink plenty of water (about 64 ounces a day) or chew sugarfree gum, which can increase saliva production.
Schedule an appointment with the team at West Chester Dental Arts, and we’ll help you keep your smile healthy!We know that keeping teeth healthy as you age can be challenging, but not impossible!