Good oral health care is vital at any age, but it’s especially vital for seniors.
According to the U.S. Census, by 2060, the number of adults aged 65 or older is projected to reach 98 million, or 24 percent of the population. As we age, so do our oral health needs.
But did you know that older adults have a higher rate of cavities, tooth loss, gum disease, and oral cancer than the general population? The enamel and dentin that protects our teeth naturally wear down as we grow older, leading to increased tooth decay and gum deterioration. As their gums recede, many seniors experience tooth loss. Some medications for chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease also cause dry mouth. Dry mouth saps the mouth of the saliva needed to whisk away bacteria and food debris, which increases the chance of cavities. Lastly, seniors stand a greater risk of oral cancers. All those issues highlight the importance of good oral health care for the senior population. Thankfully, seniors have the tools to improve their oral health.
What seniors can do to take care of their teeth
Seniors don’t have to suffer from oral health problems. Various dental procedures can restore teeth, gums, and smile. Here are a few common treatments:
Dental implants. A dental implant can replace a missing tooth or teeth. Implants can be a more complex procedure due to bone loss as we age. But your dentist can build up bone mass before the implant is placed.
Gum surgery. If gum disease has progressed to an advanced stage, several types of surgeries can restore the damaged gum tissue.
Dentures. Full or partial dentures are another excellent option for filling in missing teeth. However, ill-fitting dentures can damage gums. So be sure the dentures fit correctly and are regularly and thoroughly cleaned.
Crowns. Severely decayed or damaged teeth don’t have to face extraction. If enough of the tooth and root remain, a crown can preserve it.
Oral cancer treatments. When caught early, oral cancers are treatable with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
Oral health care tips for seniors
Good oral health care is vital at any age. But it’s crucial for seniors if they want to prevent tooth loss and decay. And it’s never too late to start an oral hygiene routine. So begin today by:
Brushing and flossing daily. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste keeps decay-causing bacteria at bay. Flossing gets between teeth where bacteria can hide. Add a medicated mouthwash to your daily oral care program.
Taking calcium supplements. Losing bone mass is a standard part of aging, and that includes the bones of your mouth and jaw. Supplements provide the extra calcium your bones need to stay strong.
Quitting smoking. Years of cigarette smoking raise the risk of oral cancers. Besides, smoking damages the teeth and gums. Whatever your age, talk to your doctor about a smoking cessation program.
Eating healthy. Cut out the sweets and alcohol. Not only is a healthy diet better for your overall health, but it’s also great for your teeth.
Visiting your dentist regularly. Don’t miss those semi-annual dental checkups! Those visits allow your dentist to stop problems as early as possible and start treatment. Tell your dentist any changes in your mouth that could indicate oral cancer. Regular visits can also ensure your dentures fit correctly.
Tooth problems don’t have to be a natural part of aging. At any age, good oral healthcare can maintain your teeth and gums for the rest of your life.
Espire Dental welcomes seniors
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s La Mesa, California, location today! Our highly trained dentists welcome seniors and help them achieve healthy teeth and gums. Don’t live near our La Mesa office? Find one of our other locations near you.
La Mesa, CA
8555 Fletcher Parkway
La Mesa, CA 91942