65+: The Golden Years
Even if you feel like a teenager at heart, hitting the golden years might mean that your teeth need extra attention. Good dental behaviors remain vital to the health of your teeth.
Seniors should continue to brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and floss once a day. Despite having many of the same oral health concerns you've always had, there are a few new ones to be aware of.
Dry mouth is a common problem among older adults and can result from medical conditions or as a side effect of certain medications. Dry mouth can lead to eating difficulties, dental decay and cause sores for denture wearers, so it's important to take care of your mouth before problems develop.
How, you ask? Drinking plenty of fluids, chewing sugar-free gum and using a humidifier at night may help prevent dry mouth. Staying current with dental appointments and discussing symptoms with your dentist are essential to keeping your mouth healthy.
In addition to dry mouth, you should also keep a close eye out for periodontal (gum) disease, which can progress slowly and painlessly over time. Although it's a major cause of tooth loss in adults, gum disease is preventable and even reversible in its early stages.
Be on the look out for the following symptoms:
- Bleeding gums during brushing
- Loose teeth or teeth moving apart
- Changes in bite or in the fit of partial dentures
- Persistent bad breath
- Bad taste in the mouth
Your best defense is practicing prevention through daily oral health habits and visiting your dentist on a regular basis. If you're a senior planning to enter a nursing facility, or have a loved one making the move, ask how staff is trained in basic dental health care. Find out if staff is trained to recognize dental health problems or if on-call dental professionals are available.
With a little due diligence, you and your loved ones can continue to maintain a healthy smile!