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Dental Care for Seniors: Special Considerations and Tips

Aging can take a toll on your teeth and gums. An estimated 19% of seniors no longer have any of their natural teeth, according to an APHA journal publication, and 53% have moderate or severe periodontal (gum) disease. Due to this natural decline in dental health, aging adults must make special considerations when caring for their teeth and gums.

Let’s explore the oral health risks associated with advanced age and the importance of following a strict dental care regimen.

How Aging Impacts Your Oral Health

As you get older, you may notice your oral health decreasing. It’s not unusual to experience the following:

Dry Mouth

Reduced saliva flow as you age can lead to chronic dry mouth. Other factors can also contribute to dry mouth, such as radiation to the head and neck areas, the use of certain medications, and some diseases like Sjogren’s syndrome.

Darkened Teeth

Changes in dentin, the layer of tooth structure under the enamel, can darken with age. This is often caused by a lifetime of stain-causing foods and drinks. The enamel also thins with age, which causes the yellow dentin layer to show through.

Gum Disease

Gum disease can develop when plaque is left on the teeth, which eventually hardens into tartar. Other factors can also contribute to this common disease, such as a poor diet, use of tobacco products, poor-fitting bridges, and certain diseases like diabetes, cancer, and anemia.

Loss of Taste

It’s not uncommon to experience a diminished sense of taste as a senior. Medications, dentures, and certain diseases can cause mild to severe sensory loss.

Tooth Loss

Failure to properly care for your teeth as you age could result in tooth loss. Tooth loss often occurs due to long-term tooth decay or gum disease not promptly treated by your Melbourne, FL, dentist.

Unique Dental Care Tips for Seniors

Aging adults generally require a specialized approach to dental care. Consider the following tips to promote healthy teeth and gums at every stage of life:

1. See Your Dentist More Frequently

Most people visit their dentist in Melbourne, Florida, every six to 12 months. While this may be sufficient when you’re younger, these visits may need to be more frequent as you age. With regular dentist visits, you can identify and treat issues early on and before complications arise.

2. Reevaluate Your Oral Hygiene

Don’t overlook the importance of brushing and flossing. As your gums and enamel may be more sensitive, using a soft-bristle toothbrush is essential to avoid irritation. You should brush after each meal and floss at least once daily to keep your gums plaque-free. If you’re missing teeth, use a clean cloth to wipe away plaque from your gums gently.

3. Practice Proper Denture Care

Many seniors wear dentures which require daily cleaning. Be sure to thoroughly clean your dentures using mild soap and water or a designated denture cleaning solution. Your dentures should also be removed at night and placed in a clean storage container with water. Going denture-free at night allows your gums to rest and recover.

4. Ask About Increasing Fluoridation

Fluoride can be found in many public water supplies, toothpaste, and over-the-counter dental care products. It is designed to help protect your enamel and strengthen your teeth. As seniors face a higher risk of tooth decay, switching to a fluoride toothpaste or asking your dentist for a prescription fluoridated rinse can help enhance your oral health.

5. Reduce Your Sugar Intake

Your sweet tooth could be contributing to your dental health decline. With age, your risk of developing certain health conditions like heart disease, dementia, and diabetes increases. Consuming too much sugar can also increase the likelihood of developing cavities and gum disease. Evaluate your diet and eliminate soda, candy, preserved dried fruits, and sticky and starchy snacks.

Let Us Help You Care for Your Smile

At Artistic Touch Dentistry, we help patients of all ages maintain their oral health and wellness. Contact our office today to schedule your next dental teeth cleaning or to learn more about our general and cosmetic dentistry services.