It is important to maintain a good dental hygiene routine throughout your life and maybe even more so for older adults. It helps them to maintain their overall quality of life.
Taking good care of their teeth and gums is vital for elder adults because they are more susceptible to oral health issues such as tooth cavities and gum disease as compared to younger people. Decay and loss of natural teeth are more common during this age. However, through proper oral hygiene, the elderly can maintain decent oral health and thus have a positive effect on their overall health as well.
Dental Concerns For the Elderly
Just like every other area of your health, aging impacts your oral health as well. Certain oral health issues require more of your attention at an older age.
In older adults, years of wear and tear can weaken their tooth enamel. As a result, they are at a greater risk of cavities. Also, gums tend to gradually recede with age. This exposes the root surfaces, making the teeth more susceptible to root decay.
Elderly people are more prone to gum disease. It can start with swollen or bleeding gums and can ultimately progress to periodontitis. It may cause the bone to wear away or even the teeth to fall out.
Older adults having certain chronic illnesses or on certain medications are at a higher risk of having dry mouth. And a dry mouth often increases the risk of cavities.
Sensitive teeth are the direct outcome of gum recession and weakened enamel.
Oral cancer has most often affected adults over the age of 40. This makes elderly people at higher risk, making regular dental checkups necessary.
Tips to Maintain Oral Health for the Elderly
To avoid or tackle all of the major oral health concerns mentioned above, it becomes important for the elderly to maintain a strict oral care routine.
1. Visiting the Dentist for Regular Checkups and Cleaning
Visiting the dentist for regular checkups is one of the most crucial things for older adults to do for their oral health. These regular visits give the dentist the chance to make an early diagnosis of problems and provide timely solutions. Infrequent visits can lead to the problems getting worse and more severe. So, making appointments for regular checkups and cleaning at least twice a year is extremely important for the elderly to follow.
2. Brushing and Flossing Daily
The formation of dental plaque is a natural process. However, it is important to not let this plaque build up on your teeth as it can lead to tooth decay or gum disease. Brushing and flossing help remove the plaque. So older adults should brush their teeth twice a day and floss once a day to maintain good oral hygiene. This will help them keep away from oral health issues.
3. Consider Taking Calcium Supplements
Our teeth are made up of several minerals, out of which calcium compounds are the most prominent. As a result, calcium becomes an important part of dental health for the elderly. Our calcium intake from food decreases as we age, making seniors more susceptible to serious health problems like osteoporosis. It can lead to the breaking down of bones around the teeth. So, taking calcium supplements helps older adults to maintain their daily calcium intake and keep their teeth as strong and healthy as possible.
4. Avoid Tobacco
It is a well-known fact that tobacco leads to many serious health hazards. It affects your oral health as well. Tobacco, in any form, can cause dental issues such as tooth decay and stained teeth. Above all, tobacco is linked to several life-threatening conditions such as throat and mouth cancer, heart diseases, and more. The use of tobacco is ill-advised for people of all ages, and more so for the elderly, as they are at the highest risk. So if you are an older adult and use tobacco, it is best to visit your dentist who can help you devise a plan for cessation.
5. Limit Your Sugar Consumption
Whether it is in kids or adults, sugary foods and drinks have always been associated with cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. We already saw how seniors have relatively weakened tooth enamel, making them more prone to such dental problems. Foods and drinks with a high level of sugar content only enhance the risks. However, if you do have a sweet tooth and need to eat something sugary once in a while, make sure you brush your teeth right afterward.
6. Take Care of Your Oral Appliances
The use of oral dentures among the elderly is pretty common. So, if dentures are a part of your dental care as well, your dentist would have given you certain specific instructions on how to care for them. It is crucial that you follow these instructions and also consult your dentist if you feel pain or discomfort while using your dentures.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to take care of your oral health at an older age. Senior adults must remember how vital dental care is for their overall health. So taking their dental health seriously and visiting a dentist for regular checkups is imperative. In case of any pain or discomfort, they should immediately call the dentist. Early detection and treatment are crucial for preventing further complications.
For any queries and concerns about the oral health of the elderly, contact us today. Our dental practice Harrow is open 7 days a week with late-night appointments also available.