It is important to take care of your teeth and gums throughout your life. We develop healthy habits of brushing and flossing our teeth daily to avoid cavities and keep our teeth white and healthy. Even as we become older, maintaining good oral hygiene should always be a priority in our daily health and hygiene regimen. Therefore, it means that seniors have special considerations when it comes to their oral health.
Dental care is essential for seniors to maintain their overall quality of life because they are more susceptible to oral conditions that younger people can easily avoid, including tooth decay and gum disease. When seniors neglect oral hygiene, their dental health may become more complicated, requiring more care and oversight. In order to avoid major health concerns, it is important for seniors to follow proper tooth and mouth care.
In this article, we are going to give seniors some of the essential dental care tips that are tailored to their specific needs. By following these tips, they can not only preserve their teeth and gums but also enhance their overall quality of life. Therefore, whether you are a senior yourself or you care for an older family member, the insights in this article will empower you to take control of oral health, ensuring that the golden years are filled with healthy smiles.
Common Oral Health Problems Experienced by Seniors
Before we give you the best tips, let us first understand the different dental issues that most seniors experience. Many senior citizens are at risk for a variety of oral health issues as they age. Below are some of them:
This is brought on by a lifetime of ingesting foods and beverages that stain teeth as well as changes in the dentin, the bone-like structure that sits beneath the tooth enamel. Darkened teeth are also caused by thinning of the outer enamel layer that lets the darker, yellower dentin show through. When a senior has a darkened tooth or teeth, it may also be a sign of a more serious problem, and it should be checked by the dentist immediately.
Reduced saliva flow, which can happen as a result of cancer therapies that involve radiation to the head and neck region, is a common cause of dry mouth. In addition to that, it can also be caused by some diseases, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, and medication side effects. There are a lot of medicines that can cause dry mouth. Since most seniors take a lot of medications, they are more prone to experience this condition.
Root decay happens when the tooth root is exposed to acids that cause decay. The gum tissue pulls away from the tooth, exposing the dental roots. In this case, the roots do not have any enamel to keep them protected, making them more prone to decay compared to the crown part of the tooth.
Gum disease is caused by plaque. It can worsen due to food left in teeth, use of tobacco products, poor diets, use of poor-fitting dentures, and certain health conditions, such as cancer, anemia, and diabetes, which are all often a problem among older adults. Gum disease is also the leading cause of tooth loss.
This condition is caused by tooth loss and then not replacing missing teeth. It allows the other teeth to drift and shift into open spaces.
If a senior is suffering from gum disease, dry mouth, or dirty dentures, he or she may also be faced with bad breath or halitosis. There are ways to combat this issue, and visiting the dentist will also help in managing the condition.
Sensitivity is also an age-related dental issue. When a person experiences gum recession, it may lead to the exposure of the tooth root, which eventually causes sensitive teeth. Using anti-sensitivity toothpaste may help improve the symptoms of sensitive teeth. But if the problem persists, it could indicate a more serious problem, such as tooth decay. You may also read our guide to Choosing the Best Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth for more tips and recommendations.
Dental Care Tips for Seniors
There are a lot of benefits to having good oral hygiene, particularly for seniors. In addition to lowering your risk of developing oral health problems, it also helps you prevent other health issues from worsening. Good oral hygiene also helps in warding off pain and soreness in the mouth, which can make eating food easier.
Routine oral care helps prevent gum disease, cavities, and other issues that can become painful and cause health problems over time. To ensure that seniors maintain good and healthy oral hygiene, below are some of the best tips and techniques that you can follow:
Brush Your Teeth Daily
Everybody should clean their teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once before going to bed, according to dentists’ recommendations. But there are also dentists who advise patients to brush their teeth between meals. For many seniors, brushing twice a day should be a routine, particularly for those who are making improvements to their oral hygiene routine.
A lot of dentists recommend using electric toothbrushes to improve brushing techniques. But whether you choose electric or not, you need to ensure that you change your toothbrush every three months at a minimum. When brushing your teeth, remember to do it for a full two minutes each time.
Aside from brushing your teeth daily, flossing is also an important part of oral healthcare. But a lot of people do not take the time to floss every day. Daily flossing can help seniors’ dental health results and lower their chance of developing cavities and gum disease. A quick and simple approach to take care of your teeth is to floss. Flossing can be difficult if you have bridges or other dental gear in your mouth. But your dentist may give you advice on how you can floss properly to keep your teeth healthy.
Rinse with Mouthwash
One to two times per day, using an antiseptic or antibacterial mouthwash is a great method to boost your brushing and flossing routine. It is advised to brush, floss, and use mouthwash thereafter. It is beneficial to use mouthwash as the final step because you might be less likely to efficiently floss and brush if your mouth already feels clean. Any drugstore will provide alcohol-free mouthwash, which has a milder flavor but is just as beneficial for your oral health.
Take Care of Your Dentures, Mouthguard, and Oral Appliances
Dentures are frequently used in senior dental care. It is crucial that you heed the advice your dentist gives you regarding how to take care of your dentures. Your dentist will offer you very detailed instructions. It’s crucial to visit your dentist so they can investigate the problem if your dentures are causing you pain, discomfort, or other issues. Seniors who wear dentures are advised to visit their dentist at least once a year for regular checkups.
Avoid Tobacco Products
Both your general health and your oral health can be seriously harmed by tobacco usage. One common adverse effect of tobacco smoking is stained teeth. Chewing tobacco can lead to dental decay, and all tobacco use is linked to heart disease, throat, and mouth cancer, as well as other serious and life-threatening conditions. If you smoke, your dentist can assist you in creating a strategy to stop. Quitting is never too late.
Decrease Sugar Intake
Cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease can all be brought on by consuming sugary foods and drinks. If you do indulge occasionally in a sweet dessert or drink sweet tea or soda, make sure to brush your teeth right away.
Several medications might make you feel dry-mouthed, which can cause your enamel to erode. You can ask your doctor to adjust your prescriptions if it is necessary, or you can drink more water to prevent dry mouth. It is crucial for your health in all respects to regularly consume a lot of water. The precise amount of water you require depends on your body weight, energy consumption, and climate, but generally speaking, 64 ounces of water should be consumed per day.
Visit the Dentist
Senior dental health depends on scheduling regular dental appointments. Infrequent or nonexistent visits can give problems time to develop into more serious issues. Seniors should schedule cleanings at least twice a year or more frequently as recommended by their dentist.
One of the most crucial things you can do for your oral health is to keep a regular appointment schedule. Your dentist can discuss the type of dental care you require with you and keep an eye out for any conditions that might be detected early on and treated before they cause you major health issues.
Whether you are a senior taking charge of your oral health or a caregiver assisting an older loved one, the tips and information shared in this article serve as a guide to ensure that the golden years are filled with laughter, joy, and the comfort of a radiant smile. By prioritizing dental care in your senior years, you are investing in your quality of life and the enjoyment of all the wonderful moments that lie ahead. We hope this article helped you learn more about dental care tips for seniors.