A Guide to Dentistry for Seniors
Taking care of your oral health is important, whatever age you are, but it takes on particular significance in your senior years. Maintaining good dental health helps protect against gum disease, tooth loss, and inflammation; as you age, it also helps protect against other age-related diseases.
As a leading dentist in the Mentor, OH, area, we see many senior patients. In this article, we’ll explore the particular challenges of dental care as you age and what you can do to protect your teeth and enjoy good dental health well into your golden years.
Let’s start with why it's so important to take care of your dental health.
Dental Health, The Gateway to Longevity - Why It's Important to Take Care of Your Teeth
Research has shown that poor dental health can raise the risk of serious health issues, including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, as with other parts of your body, your mouth, teeth, and gums age.
Two common issues in older adults include dry mouth and sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity is caused by gum shrinkage, common in those with poor oral health, and is a natural consequence of aging. Gum shrinkage exposes the root of the tooth and makes it more susceptible to cavities. Dry mouth can occur for a number of reasons, including aging, disease, and medication. A dry mouth leads to declining saliva production and reduced saliva flow. Whatever the cause, a decline in saliva flow means teeth become more susceptible to cavities.
Dry mouth is also associated with health conditions such as diabetes, stroke, and Alzheimer’s. In the October 2021 issue of JAMDA: The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, a research team found that older adults who had lost more than one tooth had a 28% higher risk of being diagnosed with dementia.
This is why it's so important to maintain good oral health.
Preventive Dental Care: How To Ensure Your Teeth Stay in Good Condition
Regular hygiene, checkups, and other lifestyle changes can help maintain good oral health. But that’s not all you can do to keep your teeth and mouth in top condition. The five most important areas to focus on include:
- Keeping a daily hygiene routine: washing teeth twice a day, flossing, and rinsing with both water and mouthwash will help prevent cavities and keep your gums in good condition.
- Eating a healthy diet: Sticking to a diet full of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables with the occasional treat will help prevent cavities.
- Stopping smoking: Smoking can lead to tooth and gum problems; with the damage that smoking does to your overall health, it's best to stop if you can.
- Regular check-ups: Undertake regular routine examinations and cleaning. This will ensure your dentist picks up on any issues and you get the appropriate treatment. We recommend seeing your dentist every six months for check-ups.
- Treating issues quickly: even with a good oral hygiene routine, you may still have concerns or need a cavity repair. If that happens, ensuring you get checked by your dentist as quickly as possible will help stop lasting damage.
Restorative Dentistry For The Older Patient
Older patients often come with implants, crowns, and dentures. Having any of these means you’ll need to take extra care in maintaining them to prevent problems.
- Dental implants: Once your gums have healed, implants should be cared for in the same way you would care for your teeth. Brushing twice daily with an electric toothbrush, use a dentist-recommended toothpaste, floss, and rinse with mouthwash.
- Crowns and bridges: Much like implants, once the area where the crown or bridge has been fitted is healed, we recommend brushing twice daily as you would with teeth.
- Dentures and partials: Ill-fitting dentures can lead to a build-up of the fungus Candida Albicans, which causes inflammation of the gum tissue. Make sure you regularly clean your dentures and partials using products your dentist recommends. If you have concerns over the fit of your dentures, speak with your dentist as soon as possible. They will be able to advise on the best course of action to ensure your dentures fit properly.
Finding a Senior-Friendly Dentist
If you're seeking a cosmetic dentist in Mentor OH, who is senior-friendly, come and talk with us at Great Lakes Dental. Simply search for a "dentist near me", and you're sure to quickly find us. With a team of highly experienced dentists, we are committed to providing unparalleled dental care to our senior patients. Call us today at 440 294 5917 to schedule an appointment.