As We Age, Our Oral Health Needs Change
Like the rest of our bodies, our mouths change as we age. While some of these changes are unavoidable, there are measures we can take to protect our oral health into our senior years.
Oral Health Problems That Can Arise in Seniors
As we age, we may be more at risk for specific oral health problems. These can include:
You develop a dry mouth when your salivary glands aren't producing enough saliva to keep your mouth moist.
Saliva is crucial for keeping our mouths healthy, as it washes away food and bacteria. Unfortunately, many medications—including some used to treat high blood pressure, pain, depression, anxiety, incontinence, and Parkinson's disease — can cause dry mouth.
Gum disease is an infection of the gums that can lead to tooth loss, often resulting in inflammation. Inflammation is caused by the build-up of plaque, a sticky film that collects food and bacteria. If you are a senior, you are at an increased risk for gum disease because you may have less saliva to wash away plaque; your teeth may also be more challenging to clean due to changes in the gums.
Oral cancer is more common in seniors, especially those who smoke or chew tobacco. It can appear as a sore or discoloration in the mouth that doesn't heal and can begin to feel like something is stuck in the back of your throat.
The Importance of Practicing Proper Oral Hygiene
There are several things seniors can do to maintain positive oral hygiene! Below are just a few of the most vital steps to take to ensure your mouth stays healthy:
- Keep your teeth healthy by visiting your dentist regularly. Depending on your oral health, you may need to go every three to six months.
- Fluoride toothpaste should be used twice daily. Make sure you brush your teeth on all surfaces, including the back and gumline.
- Remove plaque and food particles between your teeth by flossing daily. If you have trouble using traditional floss, many alternative products are available, such as floss picks, water flossers, and interdental brushes.
- Make sure your diet is healthy and limit your consumption of sugary snacks.
- Quit smoking. Smoking harms oral health in many ways, including increasing your risk for gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer.
Maintaining Smiles for Years to Come at Dentistry By Design
By taking good care of our oral health, we can enjoy our smiles for many years to come. At Dentistry By Design, we believe every smile tells a story. We're here to help you care for your teeth and gums so you can keep telling your story for years to come.
Call us today at (931) 771-8500 to learn more about our senior dental services or to schedule an appointment!