7 Important Dental Tips for Elderly People

Oct 12, 2020 11:15 AM ET

Oct 12, 2020 7:15 AM ET
iCrowd Newswire – Oct 12, 2020

Aging is an inescapable part of life that comes with bodily changes. Perhaps, one of the most obvious effects of aging involves the oral cavity. It’s not uncommon to see seniors with darkened or lost teeth. The physiological changes that come with the aging process make elderly people prone to certain dental and oral conditions that include the following:

  • Tooth or root decay– This condition is often due to many overriding factors associated with aging such as malnutrition, poor dental care, underlying medical conditions, and the use of certain medications. Anatomic changes such as receding gums tend to accelerate infection and decay of teeth.
  • Darkened teeth – This dental issue results from plaque buildup and changes in dentin (the protective outer layer of the teeth). It can also be due to drinking too many dark beverages or smoking.
  • Gum disease– Gingivitis and periodontitis are caused by dental caries or oral thrush (abnormal fungal growth in the oral cavity). It can also be a side effect of medications or a result of certain diseases.
  • Attrition– Over time, teeth, gums, and jawbones tend to wear down from use. Many decades of chewing and grinding can have a toll on the structures of the oral cavity. Also, the wearing down of enamel, buildup of dental caries, and poor dental care can all hasten attrition.
  • Dry mouth – As people age, the oral cavity tends to produce less salivation resulting in dry mouth. It is also a common symptom of underlying medical conditions and a side effect of medications.
  • Tooth loss – All of the conditions discussed above can eventually lead to loss of one or more teeth. Trauma, even minor impact, can also result in tooth loss especially when the elderly suffer from calcium deficiency. Seniors commonly wear dentures to maintain the oral cavity’s structure, enable them to eat well, and improve their physical appearance.

Fortunately, advances in modern dentistry can help prevent these conditions, if not, alleviate the impact of aging. Gone are the days of toothless seniors and detachable dentures. We now have dental implants that can permanently replace missing teeth. Dental procedures are also more attuned to the physiological needs of seniors. Dentists are backed up by medical knowledge that enables them to provide the utmost care to elderly patients’ oral and dental health.

However, maintaining the natural teeth for as long as possible is still better than replacing them. Is it possible? The answer is yes!

Here are some important dental care tips for seniors that can help keep those pearly whites last for many more years.

1.     Brush gently at least twice a day

Sans the daily hectic schedule, many seniors tend to neglect oral care and wellness as a whole. There seems to be no reason to get up do basic self-care but this should not be the case. Considering the inevitable “wear and tear” of the teeth and gums, steps must be taken to keep them clean. Gently and thoroughly brush your teeth at least twice a day or after every meal. However, avoid over-brushing as it can hurt your fragile gums and cause teeth enamel to wear down further.

2.     Floss daily

There are some areas in between teeth that cannot be reached by simply brushing. Flossing daily ensures that food particles, buildup, and bacteria stuck in these crevices are removed. Seniors should make flossing a regular part of their daily hygiene routine.

3.     Stay hydrated

As mentioned above, dry mouth is a common problem for seniors. To avoid this, make sure to stay hydrated. Unless you have some underlying health issues, try to consume at least eight glasses of water daily. Also, talk with your doctor if there are any medications with dry mouth as a side effect. If so, ask if there are any alternatives. Otherwise, you can just increase water intake or chew some sugar-free gum to manage dry mouth.

4.     Change toothbrush often

To avoid hurting your gums and teeth, seniors must use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Over time, the bristles can become frayed or damaged making it ineffective. It can also accumulate dirt and bacteria. Dentists at the dental clinic, Bajars&Bajars recommend replacing your toothbrush at least every three months to ensure the effectiveness of tooth brushing.

5.     Stop smoking

Elderly smokers are more likely to develop gum diseases as compared to non-smokers. The use of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes, dip, and pipes, can harm the teeth, gums, and overall health. Aside from physically staining the teeth, it can weaken the immune system making you prone to oral diseases. If you want to keep those pearly whites, try to quit smoking.

6.     Eat a healthy diet

Sugar-rich foods and beverages can damage your teeth and result in poor oral health. Try to cut the intake of sweetened foods. Instead, increase your consumption of nutritious foods such as milk, whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. You should also limit the intake of alcohol, soft drinks, and citrusy beverages. These are known to increase sugar and acid content in your oral cavity that can lead to oral health problems.

7.     Visit the dentist more often

As you age, dental problems become more apparent. To avoid these complications, it is necessary to seek out regular dental appointments. Ideally, you should visit your dentist at least twice or thrice a year. Dental visits are vital in the early detection of oral health needs and/or diseases. Generally, dental care is part of your policy, so you don’t have to worry about its costs. If you’re having problems with mobility, you can seek out your local social services for possible arrangements.