10 Dental Care Tips For Seniors
Taking care of our oral health is important, especially as we enter our golden years. You’re never too old to stop going to the dentist. And the better shape your teeth and gums are in, the less problems you’ll face down the road. Below you’ll find 10 dental care tips for seniors that’ll keep your mouth, teeth, and gums in great shape.
- Go to the dentist: According to the Canadian Dental Association, 48% of Canadians who neglected their dental visit in the last year have gum disease. Many seniors feel that they do not need to go to the dentist because they are on top of their oral health by brushing and flossing each day. However, regular cleanings followed by dental exams provide the best way to detect issues like gum disease, oral cancers, and tooth decay.
- Maintain a balanced diet: Without proper nutrition, your teeth and gums are susceptible to cavities and they will lose their strength. Furthermore, the bones in your jaw and face need to remain strong to keep your teeth in place – and without a healthy diet, they won’t be able to do so. Stick to healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables and non-acidic fruits (acid destroys tooth enamel). Make sure you get enough lean protein and keep sugar consumption to a minimum (or avoid it altogether if you can).
- Don’t smoke: Smoking and chewing tobacco cause everything from cancer to gum disease. There’s no way around it. If you still smoke, ask your dentist and primary care physician to recommend smoking cessation techniques. Moreover, if you have dental implants or dentures, the suction motion that occurs when you inhale can lead to implant failure and ruin your dentures.
- Denture care: Whether you have partial or complete dentures, you absolutely must care for them by cleaning them daily. Unfortunately, plaque and tartar can build up on dentures as they would with natural teeth, and without proper care, you could find yourself with gum disease. To clean your dentures, remove them and clean your gums with a soft toothbrush. You can also wrap your finger in a damp cloth and clean your gums that way. Soak your dentures in a cleaner recommended by your dentist. By soaking your dentures, plaque and tartar will loosen and come off when you brush your false teeth.
- Implant care: If you have dental implants, they need to be cared for as you would your natural teeth. Brush and floss as usual but use extra care around your implant in the area where it meets the gum.
- Medications and your oral health: Many seniors find themselves with dry mouth due to certain medications they take daily. Medications for high blood pressure, asthma, cholesterol regulation, arthritis (and more) can reduce the amount of saliva you produce. Dry mouth can lead to cavities and tooth decay, so it’s important to tell your dentist which drugs you are taking. Your dentist can recommend an oral spray or mouthwash to combat dry mouth. As we age, we need to keep our mouths lubricated because saliva helps kill bacteria and keeps our enamel from fading. Drinking enough water throughout the day will also help.
- Gum disease: Many older adults find themselves in the early stages of gum disease because they become lax with their oral care. Gum disease is usually painless until it begins to progress. If left untreated, your gums may pull away from the teeth to create deep spaces known as periodontal pockets. These pockets attract food particles and plaque and lead to gum inflammation, as well as bone and ligament issues. The moment you notice that your gums are red or swollen, go see your dentist.
- Oral cancer: When you visit your dentist, they will look for signs of mouth cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, those diagnosed with mouth throat or tongue cancer are typically around the age of 62. Signs of oral cancer include open sores and red or white patches in the mouth and on the tongue. These symptoms are generally painless but need to be taken care of ASAP.
- Sensitivity: Overbrushing can cause tooth sensitivity in aging mouths. Regular wear and tear from chewing can also lead to sensitivity. Tell your dentist if you notice pain when you consume hot or cold foods/beverages. Your dentist will recommend a toothpaste for sensitive teeth or further dental actions like fitting your teeth for veneers to protect them from more enamel loss. To fight tooth sensitivity at home, only brush your teeth gently twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Violent brushing may seem like it will remove more plaque and food debris but instead, it will actually ruin tooth enamel and cause your gums to recede.
- Fluoridation: Seniors need fluoride in their toothpaste to keep teeth healthy and strong. Ask your dentist to recommend a fluoride-rich toothpaste or rinse that you can incorporate into your daily oral care routine.
At Dawson Dental, we understand the importance of a healthy mouth and have dental care plans for people of all ages. No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to make an appointment. Contact us today.