Attention seniors! If you think problems with your teeth and gums are a thing of the past, you’re wrong. You may not be concerned about getting braces or how much money the tooth fairy gives, but major dental problems will loom in your future if you don’t take care of your smile.
Here are 3 common problems seniors encounter and how you can avoid them.
Tooth decay is actually very common in people over 65. Tooth decay risk can increase as root surfaces become exposed and dry mouth takes away the protective benefits of saliva. In addition, many older adults don’t go to the dentist as often as they used to, so cavities sometimes go untreated for longer than they should. In fact, about 25% of adults 65 and older haven’t been to the dentist in 5 years. Keeping regular dentist appointments is the key to getting cavities treated in a timely manner.
- Dry mouth
Many seniors are on multiple medications for a variety of chronic illnesses or conditions. A surprising number of meds, even decongestants, can cause dry mouth. Dry mouth is more than just a minor inconvenience –the condition decreases saliva, which plays a critical role in preventing tooth decay. To prevent damage from dry mouth, stay hydrated and limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol. Check with your physician or dentist if you think your medications are causing your mouth to feel dry.
- Gum disease
Gum disease affects people of all ages, but it becomes worse with increased age. Proper brushing and flossing can prevent gum disease. Seniors having trouble gripping a standard toothbrush should ask their dentist about modifying a handle for easier use. You may also want to consider a battery-powered toothbrush.
To prevent these top 3 issues for seniors, follow these tried and true tips:
- Brush teeth twice a day
- Floss daily
- Drink fluoridated water
- Use fluoride toothpaste
- Avoid tobacco products
- Eat a healthy diet with minimal snacking on carbohydrates, sweets and sugary beverages
- Keep regular appointments with the dentist
With these simple tips, you’ll have beautiful teeth for years to come.