Seniors and Dental Care

A healthy smile is something people of all ages strive for; however, aging often comes with an increasing amount of dental concerns. Caring for teeth and gums is often neglected in elderly adults for various reasons, such as the cost and the pain involved in certain treatments. Unfortunately, when oral health care is reduced, there are a range of problems and damages that can occur and many of the issues that affect the mouth can increase or worsen as people age. Poor dental care has also been linked to general health conditions, especially heart disease, so as seniors, it is essential to maintain good oral health.

Dry Mouth

One of the most common oral care problems many seniors face is dry mouth, which is a common side effect of prescription medications. Unfortunately, dry mouth can also lead to a variety of other problems, including the development of cavities on the roots of teeth. A lack of saliva production can also increase the bacteria in the mouth, which can travel through the body and develop into serious, even life-threatening infections.

Signs of Oral Health Problems in Seniors

Even if you do not have teeth, it is still highly recommended that you visit your dentist at least once a year for a complete oral exam. As you age, you may have oral health issues that you aren’t aware of. Some of the signs of oral health problems in a senior may include:

  • Loss of teeth
  • Gum Disease
  • Fungus growth, such as the development of thrush in the mouth
  • Difficulty wearing and/or a negative physical reaction to your dentures
  • A change in your taste sensation
  • Dry mouth
  • A change in tooth color
  • An uneven appearance on the jawline or face (often due to tooth loss)

Oral Care Tips for Seniors

Regardless of your age, daily flossing and brushing your natural teeth is important for keeping them in good oral health. Plaque can quickly build up on your teeth, which can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. If you wear dentures, it is important to keep them just as clean as you would your natural teeth; talk to your dentist about how to clean your dentures daily. Seniors should brush at least two times each day with a fluoride containing toothpaste, floss at least once each day, rinse your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash at least once a day and visit your dentist regularly for cleaning and a comprehensive oral examination.

Caring for your teeth and gums shouldn’t stop as you age and with basic oral care and routine dental exams, seniors can have a healthy mouth for many years to come. If certain medical conditions, such as arthritis, interfere with the ability to brush your teeth, talk with your dentist about alternative brushing devices, such as an electric or battery operated toothbrush.

Contact Great Lakes Dental to schedule your cleaning and oral exam.