As we grow older, the changes in our body will impact our oral health. Senior citizens tend to be on more medications and experience more life changes that can affect the teeth and gums. However, there are many ways in which senior citizens can look after their oral health. With proper care and regular dentist visits, the elderly can take comfort in knowing their dental health will contribute to a good quality of life during their twilight years.
8 Common Senior Citizen Dental Conditions
- Root decay
- Dry mouth
- Diminished sense of taste
- Tooth loss
- Darkened teeth
- Stomatitis (when tissue beneath a denture becomes inflamed and painful)
- Uneven jawbone
How To Maintain Oral Health Through Old Age
A comprehensive oral hygiene routine helps prevent bacteria from building up in the mouth, which is the cause of many of the ailments that affect the young and the elderly. The most important part of maintaining dental health is to keep the teeth and gums clean and visit a dentist on a regular basis to monitor oral health and hygiene.
A healthy dental regime for senior citizens includes:
Brushing and flossing your teeth is a habit that will serve you particularly well in your later years. The simple everyday cleaning of your teeth is the first defense against bacteria buildup, tooth decay and gum disease. Since senior citizens are more susceptible to bacterial infections, it is recommended to boost your daily efforts with a fluoride toothpaste, or brushing between meals.
Dentures are like natural teeth in that they need to be cleaned everyday with products that are specially designed for dentures. Toothpaste is too abrasive and tends to damage dentures. Instead, be sure to use a product specifically designed for cleaning dentures.
They also need to be soaked in water overnight to remove any bacterial buildup that accumulated during the day. Your mouth also needs a break from your dentures at least once a day. This break should last four hours to help maintain healthy gums and protect the tissue on the inside of your mouth. It makes sense to do this at night and clean your dentures at the same time.
As a senior citizen it is important to receive an annual dental check up. These appointments will support your own daily cleaning efforts and increase the chances of recognizing signs of gum disease and tooth decay while it is still treatable. Your dentist should be updated on what medications you’re taking, any health issues you are experiencing, and about changes in diet, lifestyle and health since your last visit.
Dry mouth is a factor that accelerates oral conditions, such as tooth decay, and can cause dentures to fit incorrectly as it irritates the skin underneath them. A moisturizing mouthwash, oral sprays or chewing gum can be used to improve or eliminate dry mouth. Consult your dentist about what product is right for you.
Diet and Lifestyle
A healthy diet, including fresh fruits and vegetables, will help maintain your teeth and gums. Chewing tobacco or smoking cigarettes is not recommended during your old age as it is especially unhealthy for your mouth. Drinking plenty of water helps to maintain saliva production, keep you hydrated and flush out toxins.