Dental Care for the Elderly: 5 Things You Need to Know

dental concept

Our understanding of dental health for older adults has improved by leaps and bounds in the last few years. While there’s no denying that the elderly are more susceptible to a wide variety of health conditions, we’ve eliminated many misconceptions about the connection between aging and dental health that have been accepted as medical truths.

For instance, one commonly held belief about the oral health of older adults is that tooth loss is a normal part of aging. However, teeth are similar to bones in that they are some of the hardest substances in the body. With proper care, anyone can rock a complete set of teeth well into old age. In fact, the condition of your teeth and mouth are important markers of a person’s overall health.

While oral care is important at any age, people need to take better care of their teeth as they get older. Long-term neglect can lead to a host of dental issues, including gum inflammation, which will lead to premature teeth loss. While tools such as 3D printing for dentistry have made dental care easier, it’s important that the fundamentals aren’t neglected.

Here are a few tips that will help keep your teeth healthy in your later years.

  1. Stay hydrated

Many older adults suffer from dry mouth, which can be caused by a preexisting medical condition or by the medication they take. ; Since saliva helps protect the teeth from oral infections and cavities, a dry mouth can lead to many health problems. Saliva is responsible for maintaining the mouth’s mineral and pH levels.

Some of your habits might contribute to a reduced flow of saliva, including lollipop sucking and smoking. One easy way to combat dry mouth is to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. If your dry mouth persists, talk to your dentist as soon as possible.

  1. Check your medication

Many older adults take multiple prescription medications on a regular basis. Some of these medications can lead to saliva loss and other oral conditions. It’s important to see your dentist if you take medications that can affect your dental health.

One class of drugs that’s been known to inhibit saliva production is antidepressants. Some types of antidepressants work by slowing down neural cell reaction, which also affects saliva flow. Another type of medication you need to look out for are hypertension drugs.

dentist checking on a patient

  1. Use special toothpaste for sensitive teeth

Gums naturally recede with old age, which means older adults are more prone to gum disease and sensitive teeth. The root isn’t protected by the enamel coating, and once the root exposed, your teeth will become more sensitive to hot and cold food and drink. You can use special toothpaste formulated to reduce sensitivity to minimize discomfort, but it’s best to have your teeth checked by a dentist just to be on the safe side.

  1. Minimize sweets and carbohydrates

Sweet and starchy food are two of the main culprits behind tooth decay. Sugar is notorious for dissolving the enamel layer, which then leads to cavities. Meanwhile, starch has been known to promote the formation of dental plaque, one of the major causes of gum disease.

You can easily avoid many dental diseases by removing sugary food and processed carbs from your diet. You might want to avoid food sweetened with aspartame and other artificial sweeteners since they have been linked to a host of diseases including heart failure, diabetes, and hypertension.

  1. Have your teeth cleaned

You need to get oral prophylaxis at least twice a year. Regular visits to the dentist can help detect dental problems early. If you wait too long before seeking treatment, you can lose your teeth or worse.

Oral prophylaxis should remove the buildup of tartar and plaque on your teeth as well as any minor stains. While regular brushing and flossing will keep your teeth clean, only a dentist can get to the hard-to-reach spots in your mouth.

These things will help keep your teeth clean and healthy, even in your sunset years. Make sure to visit the dentist at least twice a year, and to practice good oral hygiene. Avoid habits that you know are bad for your teeth.

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