As we age, it’s convenient to think that parts of our body will simply “wear out” and begin to develop problems as a result of use over time. Many people assume they will lose their teeth eventually, regardless of how they live. This is simply not true! By taking care of your mouth as you age, you can maintain healthy teeth and gums into your senior years and set your body up for better overall health.
How is your overall health related to the mouth?
- Cardiovascular diseases- Bacteria is the mouth has the ability to enter the bloodstream and initiate cardiovascular response. This may be not only because of decay but also through bacteria associated with old, unhygienic dentures and the lacerations of the gums due to ill-fitting dentures.
- Diabetes – It is a well-known fact that diabetic patients are more prone to gum diseases and poor periodontal health leading to lose teeth.
Aging and oral health issues
- Dry mouth – A significant decrease in the production of saliva can cause what is known as the dry mouth syndrome. This can occur normally because of the physical changes in the body and also various medications. A dry mouth in turn will lead to teeth being vulnerable to decay due to decrease flushing away mechanism.
- Root caries – As your gums are aging they tend to recede from the normal level exposing the roots of the teeth. The roots do not have a softer outer layer which is more prone to decay.
- Attrition – Over the period of time our teeth tend to wear out. All the chewing and grinding tends remove the outer layer of the tooth –the enamel. And when this happens the teeth become more sensitive.
- Gum disease – As mentioned earlier, the wear and tear also affects the gums, and if not kept healthy could lead to more severe gum diseases and loosening of teeth.
Oral care tips for seniors
- Brush and floss often.
The common rule is to brush twice daily. But as we age the plaque tends to get more nasty and difficult to get rid of. Brush and floss after every meal. And make it a habit! And try using an electric toothbrush to make life easier.
- Be gentle to your gums
Excessive force of the gums can damage the already weak and receding gum line. Gently massage your gums with fingers and do not overuse floss to prevent any untoward laceration of gums.
- Keep your dentures clean
Do not neglect your dentures. Your dentures can be a major source of plaque accumulation. Make sure to clean your dentures with soap solutions and with a soft tooth brush with mild abrasives. Leave the dentures in water in the night and clean them the next morning before putting them back on.
- Sugarless chewing gum
An excellent solution for dry mouth are the sugarless gums. These will activate salivary flow and allow the stimulation of gums.
- Quit smoking
This advice is obviously for all the age groups. Nevertheless, it is never too late to stop smoking. We know that smoking is extremely bad for the lungs and mouth and is the root cause for many oral cancers. So, let us do it now! Better late than never.
- Eat healthy and drinks lots of water
Limit sugary food and drinks. Eating foods with high levels of sugar causes tooth decay. Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day, including; fruit, vegetables, grains and cereals, dairy, lean meat, fish and eggs.
- Be aware of your medications
Your medication may be causing a side effect not known to you. Every time you begin a new medication, keep an eye out for any changes to your teeth, gums, and mouth. Always contact a dentist immediately if you notice a change.
- Visit your dentist
Of course! Who better to contact than your family dentist to keep your oral health at check. As you age, the nerves inside your mouth become less sensitive. Meaning, you may have dental issues and not even realize it! At Dr Ehab’s Dental Clinic we offer a comprehensive treatment approach and a more holistic manner of treatment for all ages. Seeing your dentist for regular cleanings and oral exams is important for maintaining your oral health during your senior years.
Dental health is your priority at all stages of life! Keep smiling and thriving!