Dental Care for Seniors

Aging can cause a number of oral health problems, so staying on top of dental care for seniors is vital. While simple ageing alone doesn’t cause teeth to become diseased and fall out, simple things like arthritis can make brushing teeth difficult, which then has a snowball effect when it comes to dental health.

Oral Health Issues Seniors May Encounter

  • Tooth loss can happen from a number of problems including gum disease and root decay. Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque (which can happen if you can’t brush your teeth thoroughly due to arthritis). The condition is made worse by food buildup, tobacco products, and some diseases like diabetes and cancer.
  • Denture-induced stomatitis is a result of dentures that don’t fit right, bad dental hygiene or a buildup of fungus. The condition involves swelling of the tissues beneath the false teeth.
  • Dry mouth is another oral health condition many seniors face. It can be caused by medications they may be on, or diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome.
  • Darkened teeth can also be a problem that plagues seniors, as they have a lifetime of stains from drinking coffee and other dark liquids on their teeth.

 

Oral Health Tips for Seniors

It’s important at all stages of life to maintain good oral hygiene, but especially during the senior years. Teeth and gums are very susceptible to disease after so many years of eating and chewing. Make sure you brush at least twice a day with fluoride enhanced toothpaste to keep teeth strong. Additionally, you should be flossing at least once a day to keep plaque and other bacteria away from gums. You should also visit the dentist regularly to keep track of your oral health, and keep your teeth and gums in tip top shape.

Going to the Dentist

During a dental exam, you can expect the dentist to check the following areas:

  • Your bite for proper alignment
  • Your face and neck for discolorations or moles
  • Your jaw for any joint problems or clicking sounds
  • Your glands for swelling
  • Your inner cheeks for signs of disease or trauma
  • The interior of your mouth and tongue for signs of cancer
  • Your gums for signs of disease
  • Your teeth for signs of decay, damage and cavities

If you wear dentures, you can expect everything but an examination of the teeth. Additionally, you will probably asked questions like when you where your dentures and how you care for them. Your dentist will also check the mouth for areas of irritation to make sure your dentures are a good fit for you.

If you can’t afford a trip to the dentist to maintain your dental care, don’t worry! Many dentists offer discounts and financial aid programs to qualifying seniors. Services will vary from dentist to dentist, so call your local dentist to find out what they can do for you. Additionally the American Dental Association may have some helpful resources to get you pointed in the right direction when it comes to your dental health.

Dental care for seniors should be a priority, so be diligent so you can keep your oral hygiene intact.

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One Comment

  1. Posted March 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your article, Now there is more reason to comment than ever before! This is a great fir for our project!

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