Getting older comes with a lot of changes, and changes to your dental health are no exception. About 96% of adults over the age of 65 have had a cavity, 68% have gum disease, and nearly 20% have lost all of their teeth. This isn’t unusual because the teeth of older adults have had decades of exposure to damaging acids and bacteria from whatever they consume.
But while tooth loss and the use of dentures used to be inevitable a century ago, today’s improvements in dentistry have helped older adults maintain their natural teeth and good oral health.
This means that there are ways to reduce the impact of age-related changes to your dental health, so you can maintain your well-being even in your golden years.
Regular Dental Care Prevents Serious Problems
The nerves in your teeth become less sensitive with age, so a lot of dental and oral problems can go unnoticed. There is also a growing body of evidence that links gum disease to other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, as bacteria from the gums are said to travel through the bloodstream to the rest of your body.
Bad oral health can also impact the level of nutrition an older adult can consume. All of this makes it crucial for older adults to have a dental check-up at least every six months.
Using new dental technology, dental professionals are able to detect any signs of cancerous sores or abnormal tissue very early on before the problems even develop. Older adults can now access higher quality care that can either prevent or treat any existing dental conditions.
Moreover, dentists can clean your mouth in such a way that not a single spot is missed, which is helpful since some older adults have difficulty cleaning their teeth properly. Hardened plaque which is missed at home can only be removed professionally, making regular cleanings even more crucial.
Any previous dental work such as fillings and implants can also be maintained or replaced as needed with newer and more durable materials.
Changes Required In Your Dental Routine At Home
When taking care of your teeth at home as an older adult, there are some changes you need to keep in mind. Older adults must be more gentle when they brush their teeth as their gums more easily recede at this time.
You may think that stiff bristles clean your teeth better because of the way they scrub hard on your teeth, but what they actually do is create too much pressure on your gums, which in turn compromises the health of your teeth.
A soft-bristled brush is actually better because it can bend in just the right way to insert in between teeth and get plaque out using gentle pressure. An electric toothbrush would be even better for older adults who may have arthritis pain.
The electric toothbrush will exert just the right amount of movement and pressure to clean surfaces effectively as it vibrates to remove plaque. It also has a timer to ensure that you brush for a full two minutes.
Pay Attention To What You Consume
Older adults would also need to pay attention to dry mouth, which is often caused by certain medical conditions and medications. Saliva contains minerals and immune cells which protect our teeth and wash away acid and bacteria.
Those with dry mouths are more vulnerable to tooth decay, which is why older adults are advised to hydrate with a lot of water instead of juices, coffee, tea, soda, or alcohol. It is even more crucial that they stop smoking, chewing tobacco, or chewing sugary treats. They may also consume more calcium to strengthen their teeth.
It definitely isn’t a minor thing to care for your dental health as you do with the rest of your body, especially when you’re an older adult. Leaving dental decay unchecked can lead to painful bleeding gums and infections, which may lead to other serious problems.
An older adult can keep their oral health in check by regularly visiting their dentist, changing their dental routines at home, and being mindful about everything they consume.