There's one common folly people tend to make as they age: They completely neglect their oral health. Obviously, we are not making this statement without facts to support it. According to the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), 96% of adults aged 65 have had cavities, or untreated tooth decays. At least 2 out of 3 older citizens have gum diseases, and 1 out of 5 adults have lost all their teeth to poor oral hygiene. Sounds bad? Here's the worst part: Older adults with chronic diseases are more likely to develop periodontal diseases if they follow poor dental care.
Ageing, of course, is an inevitable part of life, and with it comes an increased risk of general health issues and oral health problems. As you age, it's important to maintain good oral hygiene habits to avoid conditions that may be harmful. Older adults are more susceptible to oral cancer, dry mouth, and gum diseases.
However, seniors can do many things to prevent dental issues. Discover how to maintain your healthy smile as you age by learning about common dental problems and oral hygiene tips as explained by the best dentist in Gowrivakkam.
5 Dental Issues Common To Senior Citizens
We have listed the most common dental problems senior adults may face. The good news is that all these diseases are preventable and curable with regular dental care.
Dry mouth is almost synonymous with old age primarily because of one reason: Chronic diseases and medication. Adults dependent on lifelong medication for chronic issues like hypertension, diabetes, cardiac and lung diseases and cancer are dependent on medication. Unfortunately, many medicines deprive the oral cavity of enough saliva to keep it moist and wet, thus creating a dry mouth. Without adequate saliva to protect the teeth and gums, the oral cavity becomes more prone to dental decay and infections.
Seniors with long-term habits like smoking, chewing tobacco, and consumption of teeth-staining food are likely to have discoloured teeth. Even those without these unhealthy problems may have darkened teeth because tooth enamel can thin with age and expose the yellow dentin.
As we age, the tooth root softens, recedes, and exposes the underlying tissues to harmful oral bacteria. What starts as tooth decay will eventually reach the root, leading to excruciating pain, which can only be treated with a root canal procedure.
Generally, tooth sensitivity is an age-related problem because receding gums can expose the tooth root and cause mild to extreme sensitivity. Persistent tooth sensitivity may indicate far more serious issues like dental fractures or deep-rooted cavities.
The prolonged build-up of plaque is one of the major reasons for gum diseases in seniors. Other major contributors to gum diseases in senior adults include:
- Poor oral hygiene.
- Chronic medical conditions.
- Long-term use of tobacco and cigarettes.
- Poor-fitting dentures.
So, what can senior adults do to maintain good oral health for the rest of their lives? Here's a big list of tips for seniors to take care of their oral health and keep their teeth and gums in optimal condition.
Also Read: About The Importance of Flossing & Its Benefits
8 Proven Tips For Seniors To Maintain Excellent Oral Health
1.Brush & Floss Every Day
Brushing is a lifetime habit. But are you flossing? Dental experts recommend brushing twice a day for at least two minutes and flossing at least once everyday. Flossing removes the minute food particles from the crevices between your teeth. Elderly citizens who lack teeth can use a soft cloth to gently remove the plaque on the gum surface.
2. Use A Mouthwash
Completing your brushing and flossing routine with a thorough oral rinse with a mouthwash. It is an excellent way to flush out all the bacteria and food particles from your mouth. Use an alcohol-free mouthwash. It is as effective but less aggressive on your delicate oral cavity.
3. Stay Hydrated
As far as hydration is concerned, there are no hard and fast rules unless your doctor advises you to restrict your water intake. Drinking enough water has many benefits for your oral hygiene. It flushes away the bacteria and sugar and neutralizes the acid in your mouth. Apart from keeping your mouth moist, it also reduces your chances of tooth decay and infection.
4. Denture Care
If you are wearing dentures, you need to be extra careful. In addition to brushing and cleaning them every day, you also need to rinse them with mild soap or cleaning liquid. Do not forget to visit your dental hospital once or twice a year to ensure your dentures are in proper condition.
5. Avoid Smoking & Tobacco
The CDC warns that smokers are seven times more prone to periodontal diseases than non-smokers. The damages of smoking don't end there. Smokers are highly vulnerable to oral cancer, heart diseases, throat and lung cancer and other serious health issues. Prolonged tobacco-chewing habits can also significantly contribute to teeth decay.
6. Eat Healthily
As you age, you require calcium for your bones and your teeth, just as you did in your childhood. Opt for fat-free milk, almonds, and foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Say no to sugary drinks, candies, fizzy drinks, preserved dried fruits and starchy snacks.
7. Stay Alert For Medical Side Effects
If you are on prolonged or lifetime medication, you need to look out for the most common side effect- dry mouth. This side effect can increase your risk of tooth decay and gum diseases. Therefore, if you are on medication, stay alert for any changes in your oral health.
8. Regularise Dental Checkups
Make it a habit to visit your dentist at least once or twice a year to identify and treat any dental issues on time. If you skip your dental checkups, you are certain to develop various dental problems that could cause you unnecessary pain and expenses.
Dental Care: A Lifelong Process
Age is just a number, not a reason to forego your healthcare routine. Remember that investing in your oral health is akin to investing in your overall health. With proper dental hygiene and regular visits to your dental hospital, you can ensure a bright smile even in your 80s!
Experts at our dental hospital in Medavakkam, Chennai can help you maintain excellent oral health no matter what age you are. Book an appointment for your routine dental checkup and sport your pearly whites for a lifetime!