As we get older, our oral care needs change. There are new considerations and new challenges for keeping our teeth healthy. After all, they’ve worked hard all our lives, and with the right care, they can certainly continue to do so. Specifically oral care for seniors in some ways, is unique to this stage of life.
Remember, the health of our mouths and the health of the rest of our bodies are directly connected. Keeping one healthy can work wonders for the health of the other. Here’s an overview of some of the things seniors should consider when it comes to oral care, dental issues that affect older people, and some good habits to cultivate.
The natural recession of our gums as we age can lead to root decay. Roots don’t have the layer of protective enamel that the rest of the tooth has, so when they’re exposed to bacteria, they can decay rapidly.
A lifetime of eating and drinking can stain the enamel of our teeth, which will then darken. Similarly, the reduction of that layer of enamel may cause yellowing.
As we age, we’re are more impacted by gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss. Gum disease can be caused by a variety of factors, including smoking and diet, but is exacerbated by issues like dry mouth, which is common among seniors.
As well, certain medications can reduce the amount of saliva our bodies produce. As our saliva contains antibacterial properties, amongst many other benefits, less of it can mean more bacteria growth.
If we do lose teeth to gum disease, root decay or other issues, and do not quickly address the loss with prosthetics, the empty space can lead to other problems as other teeth begin to move to fill the gap.
What You Can Do
Of course, an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure, and it’s never too late to develop good oral care habits. This means brushing at least twice each day, flossing regularly, using a mouthwash with fluoride and scheduling regular dental check-ups.
This also means no smoking. Again, it’s never too late to quit, and the results of quitting can be immediate.
When beginning new medications, be sure to ask your doctor about any side effects related to oral health. It’s always a good idea to keep your mouth in mind, and to see it as part of your body’s overall health.
If you wear dentures, be sure to properly maintain them as per your dentist’s specifications. They should fit comfortably at all times, so don’t suffer in silence! Pain and discomfort, especially where there was none before, can be a sign of an impending ailment. If your dentures break in any way, stop use immediately and see your dentist. A broken denture may sit against your remaining teeth and jaw improperly, which can affect the health of your entire mouth.
A Dialogue with Your Dentist
We will always be there for you and your mouth. Keep the lines of communication open, share your concerns and take our advice to heart! Most communities across Ontario will offer special dental service and support to seniors, so take advantage of the resources around you. Here at Yonge Eglinton Dental, we’re proud to provide care to senior patients. Schedule an appointment today— because whether you’re eight or 88, you deserve a smile you can be proud of.