Oral Health for Senior Citizens

As kids, we were constantly nagged about the importance of brushing our teeth. As we age, however, we begin to realize the effects of poor dental hygiene. Aging affects our overall health, especially the strength of our teeth. By making clean teeth a priority, you will be well on your way to good oral health. Read on to discover the four risks involved with poor dental hygiene. 

#1: Cavities

This is the phrase we hate hearing in a dentist’s office: “You have a cavity.” Cavities can affect anyone at any age, but seniors are more at risk due to constant gum recession. Gum recession causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, exposing the tooth and the tooth root. While the teeth are covered in enamel, the roots are not. Because of this the roots are vulnerable to plaque buildup, and in turn root decay. 

For older adults, decay around the edges of fillings may be an issue, because over time fillings may fracture or weaken, creating the perfect hiding spot for bacteria. 

#2: Dry Mouth

Saliva plays an important role in oral health by removing food particles and acid that sticks to our teeth. It keeps food moving and continuously sweeps bad bacteria out of our mouths. When you don’t produce enough saliva, you may be at risk for tooth decay. You may be experiencing dry mouth if you regularly take medication for high blood pressure, allergies, or anxiety, to name a few. 

Here are a few ways to prevent dry mouth:

  • Talk to your physician about adjusting the dosage of your medication.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking more water.
  • Minimize consumption of acidic beverages such as soda, coffee, and fruit juices

#3: Tooth Loss

Adults over the age of 65 lose an average of 13 of their 32 teeth! Despite this startling statistic, tooth loss is 100% preventable. Staying up-to-date with regular dental cleanups twice a year is a great way to preserve any remaining teeth. 

Tooth loss can be caused by many things, but gum disease is a huge culprit. An often painless condition, gum disease creates deep pockets where plaque and food particles collect. When gum disease is advanced, it destroys the gums, bone, and ligaments, leading to the loss of teeth. However, don’t fret! Dental implants and dentures are available to give you back your radiant smile. 

#4: Oral Cancer 

Cancer—a word nobody wants to hear, but being informed can help aid in prevention. Nearly 50,000 cases of mouth, throat, and tongue cancer are diagnosed each year. The average age of those affected is 62.

To check for signs of cancer, our dentists will perform an oral exam to check your lips, cheeks, gums, tongue, and the roof of your mouth for cancer signs. Contact your dentist immediately if you notice signs of red or white patches on your gums, tonsils, or the lining of your mouth. 

By routinely brushing, flossing, not smoking, and keeping up with regular dentist visits, you can maximize your oral health, and ultimately boost your overall health.

Looking to smile brighter? Make an appointment with us today!