Dental Hygiene for Older Americans
Taking care of your teeth is important at any age. But since May is “Older Americans Month,” we thought we’d take some time to focus on senior oral health.
Statistics from the Washington Dental Service Foundation (WDSF) show that about 75% of adults over age 60 are missing teeth. But the situation doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Here are a few tips to help keep your teeth healthy in the senior years:
Dry Mouth – Many medications taken for chronic health issues can increase your risk for this irksome condition which reduces the amount of saliva in the mouth. Without saliva to help neutralize decay-causing acids, we face the risk of increased gum disease and tooth decay. If you can’t change medications, try saliva-promoting solutions like drinking more water, sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugar-free gum. Over-the-counter dry mouth solutions and sprays may also help.
Gum Disease -Seeing your dentist regularly can help prevent or treat early-stage gum disease (gingivitis) which is evidenced by symptoms such as bad breath, red or swollen gums, loose teeth or painful chewing. Smoking, certain medications and even some medical conditions (like diabetes) put us at higher risk for contracting gum disease. If you haven’t been diagnosed with gum disease and have some of the above symptoms, make sure you mention them to your dentist for prompt treatment.
Dentures – They’re not your real teeth, but they still require care. Ill-fitting dentures can lead to other health issues. Make sure you get your denture fit checked regularly, especially following major weight changes which can cause changes in the supporting structures of the mouth. Dentures should be brushed daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush using special denture cleaning powder or paste (or even mild dish soap).
For older patients who have severe dental issues but are too afraid to seek treatment, please keep in mind that Williamsburg Dental offers sedation dentistry. We can safely and comfortably treat patients with severe dental anxiety while they rest in a comfortable, sleep-like state. You can call us at 610-353-2700 to schedule a complimentary consultation.
Remember: a beautiful smile is lovely at any age!