Oral Health Concerns for Older Adults

by MikeMeehan 8/21/2017 3:17 PM

As you age, your dental health is just as important as it was when you were a kid. So while the healthy routines are the same – brushing twice a day, flossing, visiting the dentist and eating smile-friendly foods – there are some specific concerns we can focus on to make sure your smile stays strong.  Maintain good oral health routines You already brush twice a day, for two to three minutes with fluoride toothpaste. Now as you get older, be aware that the areas by your old fillings and the parts of your teeth exposed by receding gums are more susceptible to decay. Your dentist can watch for any signs of tooth decay in these areas. MouthHealthy.org from the American Dental Association recommends, for adults over 60, using an electric toothbrush or a toothbrush with a wider handle, especially if you have limited movement or arthritis. Keep flossing Flossing is as important as ever since most adults show some signs of gum disease. Flossing can remove the plaque between your teeth and below your gum line to help prevent gum disease. Sometimes we forget about the health of our gums, but gum disease can lead to tooth loss in adults. Choose healthy Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D can help keep your teeth and bones healthy and reduce the risk of tooth loss. Apples, carrots, celery and other fruits and raw vegetables can help to remove plaque from your teeth, but if you’re experiencing tooth pain, it may deter you from eating healthy foods. Visit your dentist right away if you’re having pain and it’s affecting your ability to eat. Oral health is a part of your overall health, so eating foods rich in antioxidants and nutrients can improve your ability to fight bacteria and inflammation, which affects and protects your teeth and gums. Your dentist can notice potential problems Your dental visits twice a year are just as important to maintain as you age. Dental x-rays can detect the early signs of oral health problems like root decay. Additionally, chronic diseases like diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease can show symptoms in your mouth, research suggests. Your dentist can be the first to notice problems. Your medications can affect your oral health Some of us may face health issues that require medication, and your medications can have negative effects on your oral health. One of the most common side effects for older adults is dry mouth. This condition deprives the mouth of saliva, which plays a critical role in preventing tooth decay. To help with this, drink plenty of water and limit caffeine and alcohol. Consult your doctor and dentist for guidance and more information. Also, it’s important to keep dentists up-to-date on medications so they can monitor your oral health for side effects. Keep them strong While some of these recommendations are universal and can apply to all ages, as you age, your oral health can have specialized concerns. Take care of your teeth and gums so they stay strong and healthy throughout your life. Here’s more information about continuing dental benefits after retirement.

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