When it comes to getting older, many people appreciate a newfound sense of wisdom and perspective on life. Of course, aging comes with a lot of physical changes as well, and it’s not uncommon for people to make diet and lifestyle changes to maintain their health as time goes on. But one additional area that often requires more attention is your oral health! Keep reading as a dentist for seniors discusses common problems in the twilight years and easy dental hygiene tips you can use to prevent them.
Oral Health Issues That Can Occur With Age
- Dry mouth – One common side effect of many medications is dry mouth. Without saliva to neutralize acids and wash away plaque and bacteria, your risk of cavities increases drastically.
- Gum disease – Gum disease (also called periodontal disease) includes symptoms like red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums. It’s not only more common with age but is also the leading cause of tooth loss in advanced stages.
- Aging dental restorations – Nearly all dental work has to be replaced at some point, and many people have older fillings, dental crowns and other restorations that need attention as time goes on.
- Missing teeth – People who have tooth replacement options like bridges or dentures have to spend extra time to keep them cleaned and maintained.
The Importance of Seeing a Dentist Regularly As You Age
One benefit of life experience is understanding that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to your medical and dental health. In that regard, one of the most important things you can do is to see a dentist for seniors for regular checkups and cleanings.
These visits ensure that any problems are found when they’re small and easier to fix, and a professional cleaning will remove the plaque and tartar that you can’t remove at home. In addition, your dentist can give you personalized help for specific oral health issues (for example, prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste to counteract dry mouth and prevent cavities).
Dental Hygiene Tips For Seniors
It goes without saying that your habits at home are also critical to your oral health. Here are a few dental hygiene tips and tricks:
- Ask your dentist or hygienist about hygiene aids – This may include an electric toothbrush, which does most of the work for you and can be especially helpful if you have a hard time gripping a regular toothbrush handle. There are also floss picks, interdental brushes and oral irrigators that make cleaning under your gumline or around dental work much easier.
- Use extra fluoride – Whether you get prescription toothpaste from your dentist or simply swish with a fluoride mouthwash each night, topical fluoride is a great way to prevent tooth decay and can even reduce sensitivity.
- Stay hydrated and reduce sugar intake – Staying hydrated will help you prevent dry mouth, and reducing sugary or high-carbohydrate foods and beverages will naturally lower your risk of cavities.
Aging doesn’t have to come with more dental problems. With these tips, you’ll have a great chance of maintaining a healthy, beautiful smile for many years to come.
About the Author
With more than 30 years of experience as a family dentist, Dr. John Carollo provides comprehensive care for patients of all ages. He especially enjoys working with seniors to improve their overall quality of life through better oral health. If you’re a senior and want personalized dental hygiene tips or have any other questions, he can be reached via his website or at (973) 377-5117.