As senior citizens, dental and oral health is as important as when you are young.
While you are young, you develop habits of brushing your teeth daily, and floors once a day to avoid cavities.
This helps to maintain your dental health, keep your teeth white and healthy.
However, as you age, taking care of your teeth remains a crucial part of your everyday health and hygiene routine.
Meaning, senior citizens have to consider several factors to consider when it comes to their overall health.
Elderly dental care is important in maintaining the overall quality of life.
This is because senior citizens are more suspectable to oral conditions than younger individuals including tooth decay and gum disease.
Elderly dental care sums up the effects the aging on teeth and gums, and understand how a lifetime of habits can contribute to your current state of oral health.
Keep n reading to learn about different oral and dental conditions that can affect your teeth as you get old and what preventive steps you can take.
Oral Health Problems in Senior Citizens
Aging puts many senior citizens at risk of a number of oral and dental problems.
Let’s discuss them as follows:
Dry Mouth: Many medications can cause dry mouth.
Moreover, reduction in the flow of saliva can be the result of cancer treatment like radiation therapy to the head and neck area.
Diseases like Sjogren’s disease can also cause dry mouth in senior citizens.
Decrease in the sense of Taste: While as you age, you may experience an impairment in the sense of taste.
Diseases, certain medications, and dentures can also contribute to this sensory loss.
Gum Diseases: Gum diseases in senior citizens can be due to plaque and can worsen over time due to the food left in the gaps of teeth and gums.
Moreover, the use of tobacco, poor-fitting bridges, and dentures, poor diet, and certain diseases like anemia, cancer, and diabetes can often cause problems as you age.
Yellow Teeth: Changes in dentin to some extent can cause darkening of teeth in senior citizens.
Also, it can be due to the thinning of the outer enamel layer that lets the darker yellow dentin show.
However, it can sometimes be an underlying symptom of medical conditions.
In such a case, you should visit your dentist for a detailed checkup.
Oral Thrush: Certain diseases or drugs that affect your immune system can trigger an overgrowth of the fungus Candida Albicans in your mouth.
Other Oral Conditions
Other oral conditions and medical conditions that you can have due to certain medical conditions:
Denture-Induced Stomatitis: If your dentures do not fit properly, poor dental hygiene or a buildup of the fungus Candida albicans can cause this condition.
Stomatitis is the inflammation of the tissue underlying a denture.
Uneven Jawbone: When you do not get a tooth replacement for a missing tooth, then it can cause an uneven jawbone.
This makes the rest of the teeth shift and drift into open spaces.
Tooth Loss: When you do not get treatment for gum diseases, or follow a poor dental and oral routine, it can lead to tooth loss.
According to CDC, tooth loss is common in 1 in 5 older adults.
Heart Diseases: Inflammation due to gum diseases increase your chances of developing heart disease according to the American Academy of Periodontology.
Moreover, it can also make certain heart diseases worsen and can even lead to stroke.
Pneumonia: Senior citizens with poor dental hygiene.
Especially the ones that use tobacco and its by-products are at an increased risk of bacterial pneumonia.
Oral Cancer: Older adults are at an increased risk for oral cancer.
The risk is even higher for adults who chew tobacco or smoke cigarettes, pipers, or cigar.
However, regular dental checkups can detect or diagnose the problem in the early stages, according to studies.
It is important to note that age in and of itself is not the only factor in determining oral health.
In some cases, however, certain medical conditions, like arthritis in hands and fingers can make brushing difficult.
Drugs can also affect oral health and can make a change in your necessary dental treatment.
What Senior Citizens can Expect During a Dental Exam?
If you are a senior citizen heading for a dental checkup, then understand that your dentist will conduct a thorough dental exam and take your medical history.
Moreover, they will ask you the following questions:
- the approx. date of your last dental checkup
- recent changes you might have observed in your mouth
- lose teeth or sensitivity
- difficulty in tasting, chewing or swallowing
- pain, discomfort, sores, or bleeding in your mouth
- any lumps, bumps, swellings in the mouth.
It is important to note that during an oral examination of your mouth your dentist will check for your face and neck in case you have skin discoloration, moles, or soreness.
Your bite for any problems in how you close your mouth while opening and closing it, your jaw for the signs of clicking and popping as in TMJ.
They will also check your lymph nodes and salivary glands for signs of swelling and lumps, inner cheeks for infections, ulcers, etc. tongue and interior surfaces, or signs of infection or oral cancer.
Lastly, they will check your teeth for decay, conditions of fillings, and cracks.
However, if you have dentures or other dental appliances, your dentist may ask a few questions.
They will also look for any irritation or problems in the areas of your mouth that the appliances touch.
This is to look for any worn or broken areas that might be due to dentures or appliances themselves.
Tips of Senior Citizens Dental Care
Senior dental care sums up the effects of aging on your teeth and gums.
Moreover, how certain medications, underlying medical conditions, and medications can affect your teeth and gums as you age.
When you neglect oral and dental hygiene, it can cause more complications with more can and oversight necessary.
Thus, to avoid major health concerns, it is important that you follow a strict regime of tooth and mouth care.
Let’s dig right into the tips you can follow to maintain your oral hygiene.
Visit your Dentist Regularly
Regular visits to your dentist are important for senior dental health.
Moreover, frequent visits or no visits at all can allow certain problems to worsen and become more severe.
As a senior citizen, you should make appointments for cleanings at least twice a year or as directed by your dentist.
Maintaining a regular appointment schedule is one of the important things you can do to maintain oral health.
Your dentist can kind you on how to maintain your teeth and hygiene and keep a watch out for certain conditions that can be diagnosed early on before they can lead to any serious health problems for you.
Learn more about dental scaling and polishing here.
Brush Daily and Floss
Many doctors and dentists recommend that everyone should brush their teeth twice a day or after a meal.
Moreover, brushing twice a day should be a well-established routine for senior citizens, however, it is necessary for making it a part of your regular routine.
Using electric toothbrushes helps to improve brushing techniques according to many dentists.
However, whether using an electric toothbrush or not, you should change your toothbrush every 3 months.
It is also important to use the right bristle strength for you and use a toothpaste your dentist recommends and contains fluoride.
Flossing is an important part of oral healthcare, however, many individuals do not take it seriously.
Seniors can help their dental health outcomes with daily flossing as it removes food stuck between your teeth and gums.
Thus, reducing your chances of developing cavities and gum diseases.
However, if you have bridges or other hardware, then you can talk to your dental hygenist and learn how to floss with dental appliances.
Use a Mouthwash
You can use an antiseptic or antibacterial mouthwash once or twice a day.
It is an excellent supplement for brushing and flossing routine and many dentists recommend that you floss, brush, and then gargle with mouthwash.
It is helpful when you use it as the last step because you may be less inclined to floss and brush effectively if your mouth feels clean.
You can get an alcohol-free mouthwash from any pharmacy and is also less aggressive in terms of taste, however, it is effective for your oral health.
Taking Calcium Supplements
For senior citizens, calcium is an important part, while many individuals do not get enough calcium in their diets.
Seniors especially need to increase their calcium intake to maintain the best possible oral health.
Osteoporosis is a common condition in many elders as it can break down the bones around your teeth and can be a serious health problem.
Thus increasing your calcium intake either through supplements or calcium-rich foods can help combat osteoporosis and keep your teeth as strong as possible.
Taking Care of Dental Appliances
In most cases, elderly citizens need dentures and your dentist will give specific instructions on how to properly care for them.
Thus, it is important to follow their instructions to avoid any complications.
However, if your dentures are causing pain, discomfort, or other issues, then it is important to consult your dentist so that they can look into the issue.
Moreover, if you have dentures, then doctors recommend that regular dental appointments are important.
Avoid Tobacco Products and Sugar
Tobacco and its by-products can cause serious medical conditions and are one of the leading causes of yellow stains on the teeth.
Chewing tobacco can cause tooth decay and all forms of it can cause throat and mouth cancer, heart diseases, and other life-threatening diseases.
In such a case you should consult your dentist to have a plan for cessation.
Moreover, eating sugary and starchy food and lead to cavities and cause tooth decay.
In such as case, you should avoid these foods to prevent dental conditions to develop.
Hydrate and Remember to take care of your Dental Health
Many medications can cause dry mouth and can lead to enamel erosion, in such a case, you should consult your dentist or doctor to switch medications if necessary.
Moreover, drinking plenty of water is important to maintain your overall health. However, the amount of water you should drink depends on your weight, energy output, and climate.
It is also important to take your dental health seriously and call your dentist if you have any pain, discomfort, or tooth loss.
Early diagnosis and treatment of dental problems can help to prevent further complications as well as maintaining overall health.
Maintaining oral and dental health is important not only for young individuals but also for senior adults. Most often if your age is above 60 years them most often your dental and health insurance covers the costs.
Many health conditions, medications, and dental conditions can cause you to lose your teeth, develop cavities and other issues.
Thus, taking care of your oral and dental hygiene and following the above tips can help you to maintain overall health and dental health.