By Kate Ranta on Jun 4, 2021 @ 11:00 AM
Aging is a part of life. And with it can come an increased risk of health issues, including oral health problems. It’s very important to keep up your good oral hygiene habits as you age, particularly to steer clear of conditions that could be detrimental to your overall health.
Here are some oral care tips for seniors to help ensure your mouth stays as healthy as possible:
Daily brushing and flossing. Taking care of your natural teeth is crucial at this point in your life. Don’t cut corners on brushing and flossing. Brush at least twice a day with toothpaste containing fluoride and floss at least once a day. Make sure to visit your dentist on a regular schedule for cleanings and oral exams - and don't forget to make sure your dental insurance plan is for seniors (and fits your pension, if you have one). .
Fight gum disease. Gum disease can be an uphill battle in older adulthood. It’s caused by plaque and made worse by:
- Tobacco use
- Poor-fitting bridges and dentures
- Unhealthy diets
- Diseases such as anemia, cancer, and diabetes
Gum disease is also the leading cause of tooth loss in older adults, as well as chronic conditions and complications such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. And, recent studies even link poor oral hygiene to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Work with your dentist to keep gum disease at bay. It’s important for your overall health.
Be mindful of your roots. Tooth roots become exposed due to gum recession related to aging and periodontal disease. The roots decay because they’re not protected from acids like your normally exposed teeth. Root exposure can make your teeth sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, which can be uncomfortable and painful.
Watch out for darkened teeth. Years of drinking coffee, tea, cola or red wine or stain-causing foods can discolor your teeth. Dentin—the bone-like tissue underneath the tooth enamel—darkens and tarnishes your teeth’s bright glow. If you find you’re self-conscious about it, talk with your dentist. He or she can recommend whitening options based on the strength and condition of your teeth.
Invest in your dentures. If you have dentures, taking care of them is important for both the dentures and your mouth. Brush them daily to remove food and plaque. In addition to brushing, you should clean and rinse your dentures. Use hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid. Other household cleaners and toothpastes are too rough for dentures. Also, be very careful when handling them. When putting dentures in and taking them out, stand over a full sink of water—just in case you drop them.
Practicing good dental health across the lifespan is important to maintaining a healthy mouth, teeth, and gums. It will also improve your quality of life. Remember: taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health. To learn more about the care your mouth needs at different stages of your life, check out our FREE ebook on dental care throughout the ages below!