Senior Oral HealthBarotz Dental | April 17, 2018
Our teeth are just as important in our senior years as they are our former ones, and as such, maintaining a robust oral hygiene routine is essential regardless of our age. Nevertheless, as we get older many things in our bodies change, and we often find that we need to adapt the way in which we do things to ensure that we remain as happy and healthy as possible.
While teeth could potentially last a lifetime, the reality is that most of us will experience some degree of dental decay before we reach our senior years. Research has shown that left untreated, oral health problems such as moderate decay and periodontitis, can not only affect the look and function of our teeth, it could also have an impact on our wider health. Experts agree that there are irrefutable links between poor dental health and a range of chronic and often debilitating conditions affecting other areas of our body, including:
Alzheimer’s Disease / Dementia
High Blood Pressure
Respiratory Infections (COPD)
As we get older, our bodies find it much harder to cope with chronic conditions and to fight diseases. Therefore, by ensuring that you look after your teeth you can help minimize your risk of developing these problems as a result of poor oral health.
Dental challenges faced by Seniors
When it comes to keeping your teeth clean and healthy in your golden years, you may find that you are faced with a number of challenges. However, by learning how to address these and having the support of your dentist, you can overcome them and enjoy better oral health. You may also retain your natural teeth for even longer!
Cavities are caused by acid bacteria eating into the enamel of your teeth, exposing the softer inner layers and causing pain. Unfortunately, cavities are more common in the older generation, so extra care must be taken when brushing and flossing.
Tooth loss is an unfortunate but extremely common occurrence, particularly in older people who have had to try and retain their teeth for longer. If you have multiple missing teeth, then you may be recommended for dentures. This device is worn in the mouth and contains prosthetic teeth, restoring the function and appearance of your smile. Dentures must be removed to be cleaned. However, they are very fragile and extra care must be taken when doing so. You will also need to attend regular check-ups so that your dentist can check on the condition of your dentures and underlying gums.
Dry mouth is a condition caused by reduced saliva flow into the mouth and is often triggered by certain medications or medical disorders. This can be uncomfortable and leaves your teeth at increased risk of decay as there is little saliva to wash bacteria away. Thankfully, dry mouth can be alleviated with treatment recommended by your dentist.
Gum recession is also a natural side effect of ageing, and this can cause the roots of your teeth to become exposed. This can cause pain and sensitivity and leave the roots more open to decay.
Periodontal disease is a leading cause of tooth loss in senior age patients and this demographic is also more likely to suffer from moderate to severe gum problems. Left untreated, it can also contribute to the development of serious general health conditions.
What you can do to Keep your Teeth Healthy
Just because you are getting older, it doesn’t mean that your dental health has to suffer. The best way to protect your teeth is to make sure that you brush them twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, and then rinse with mouthwash. You should also try and floss as often as possible, although we appreciate this can get tricky if your fine motor skills aren’t quite as strong as they used to be.
Regular visits to your dentist are also crucial. They can perform a thorough examination of your teeth and mouth to ensure that any problems are spotted and treated early.
If you would like more information on senior oral health, our friendly team would be delighted to help. Please call us to set up an appointment.