Oral health is important during any stage of life, but more so during your senior years when proper oral care is crucial to your overall health. Dental care for seniors involves unique considerations. Seniors are more likely to suffer from a host of oral health issues resulting from the natural aging process, their inability to receive proper oral health care due to financial constraints (no dental insurance) or their inability to provide adequate dental hygiene care for themselves.
The most common oral health issues that are seen in senior citizens:
Dry mouth is a result of reduced salivary flow. This can be caused directly from cancer treatments that use radiation to the head and neck area, as well as certain diseases, such as Sjögren’s syndrome, and side effects from many medications. Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is uncomfortable and can result in mouth sores, problems speaking, tasting, chewing and swallowing, burning sensations in the mouth and tongue and cavities.
The natural aging process oftentimes results in gum recession and the subsequent exposure of the roots of your teeth. Roots do not have any enamel to protect them and are more prone to decay than the crown part of the tooth.
Gum disease and tooth loss
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an inflammatory condition mediated by the bacteria contained within dental plaque and calculus. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among seniors and can be made worse by poor oral hygiene, use of tobacco products, poor-fitting bridges and dentures, poor diets, and certain diseases, such as anemia, cancer, and diabetes. The professionals at Spring Creek Dental are here to help you maintain your teeth for a lifetime.
Follow the tips below to ensure that you are able to keep a healthy smile:
- Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day using fluoride toothpaste. Floss at least once daily and use a alcohol-free mouthwash to properly to maintain dental hygiene.
- If brushing and flossing are difficult for you due to arthritis or other conditions that limit hand function, you may find it difficult to perform oral hygiene practices effectively.
- To help with limited grip strength and dexterity, purchase a toothbrush with a larger handle or slide a bicycle grip or foam tube over the handle of a normal toothbrush.
- Securing the toothbrush handle to your hand with a wide elastic band can be helpful as well.
- If you find that you can not grip a brush you may also try using a soft washcloth or gauze to remove debris from the teeth, rinsing frequently. Use this method until you are able to brush your teeth again.
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year for professional dental cleaning, X-rays and exam. Be sure to tell your dentist about any medications that you are taking or changes to medication.