Just like the rest of your body, as you get older, your mouth becomes more prone to oral health issues — such as cavities, gum disease and tooth loss. The good news is there are many simple ways you can combat dental challenges associated with aging. Keep reading to learn more about common dental problems that affect older people, and tips to keep your mouth in optimal health well into your golden years.
Common Oral Health Problems For Seniors
Seniors face unique oral health challenges as they age. Talk to your dentist if you experience or suspect any of the following problems.
- Dry mouth. Decreased saliva production is a common consequence of the natural aging process or certain medications. Chronic dry mouth prevents food particles and bacteria from being washed away in the mouth. This increases the risk of decay and gum disease.
- Gum disease. While you can get gum disease at any age, seniors are especially susceptible to gum infections as a result of poor oral hygiene and not maintaining regular dental visits. Gum disease is a serious oral health condition, a leading cause of tooth loss in adults — and even linked to other serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.
- Mobility problems. For some seniors, oral hygiene tasks once performed with ease become more difficult with age. For instance, people with arthritis may experience trouble holding their toothbrushes or flossing effectively. Similarly, an elderly person who is unable to drive may skip routine dental visits altogether. Failure to maintain oral hygiene over time can wreak havoc on a person’s aging teeth.
Healthy Tips For Your Aging Teeth
Although it’s impossible to stop time, there are many things you can do now to ensure your mouth remains healthy throughout your lifetime.
- Maintain proper oral hygiene. Keep your teeth and gums healthy by cleaning them twice a day with a soft bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Floss daily and remember to clean your dentures if you wear them. If you have dexterity problems, consider using an electric toothbrush, a water flosser or other adaptations to make it easier to clean your teeth.
- Visit your dentist for routine exams. One of the most important ways to prevent common oral health problems as you age is to schedule routine visits with your dentist. Contact your dentist whenever you experience dental pain or suspect an issue with your teeth and gums. The sooner your dentist identifies your problem, the sooner it can be treated without more serious complications.
- Avoid dry mouth. If you have dry mouth, it’s important to increase saliva production by drinking more water throughout the day, chewing sugar-free gum or taking a saliva substitute. If medication is causing your dry mouth, talk to your physician about alternative options.
- Make healthy lifestyle changes. Bad habits such as smoking and poor diet can lead to serious dental issues over the span of a person’s life. By making positive changes, such as giving up smoking and eating a nutrient-rich diet, you will be helping both your mouth and your total body health.
Call our office today!
At McLean DDS, we understand the importance of a healthy mouth and are committed to helping patients of all ages live a full and healthy life. Call our office to schedule your next exam and cleaning or make an appointment online.