We’re all used to the image of the smiling old man with toothless gums. It may be commonly believed that aging is synonymous with losing teeth, but there are several ways for seniors to protect their smiles. With proper oral hygiene, regular dental visits, and a careful diet, your teeth can stay beautiful well into your senior years, even if that’s your seventies, eighties, or even nineties!
While it is true that seniors are at more risk of certain oral health complications likes gum disease, staying vigilant for warning signs can keep you smiling for a long time.
The Risk of Gum Disease
It’s important to know the statistics: one-in-five Americans over the age of 65 have untreated tooth decay and over 70% have gum disease. The simple truth is that, as you age, your mouth becomes more prone to oral complications. Although there are several reasons for this, the top three have to do with receding gums, dry mouth, and limited dexterity (or the ability to properly brush your teeth).
As we age, our gums naturally recede, which can make it easier for bacteria to compromise our teeth. Excessive dry mouth makes this even more troublesome, as saliva is our body’s natural defense against cavity-causing bacteria. If you’ve noticed lately that your mouth has been dry, try drinking more water or speaking with your doctor.
Don’t Forget to Brush
Probably you’ve been brushing your teeth for decades, so why stop now? Oral hygiene only becomes more important as you age. Brushing regularly and thoroughly using a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and seeing your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings/contact'}}}} will ensure your mouth stays happy and healthy. If you suffer from mobility issues due to stroke or other medical conditions, you can still clean your teeth effectively with an electric toothbrush. They’ll also help if you find toothbrushing tiring! You can also make sure you’re flossing correctly by investing in a water flossing system.
If you’ve lost teeth, wear dentures or partial dentures, you should still see your dentist regularly. A dentist can help with the fitting of your dentures, make sure they’re undamaged, and can help to protect the rest of your mouth by scanning for oral cancer or other complications.
What About a New Smile?
Losing teeth can be difficult for many seniors, especially those who want to avoid dentures. If you’ve recently lost one or more teeth, you might consider dental implants. Tapping into a process known as osseointegration, dental implants function much like natural teeth. They don’t require any special cleaning and come with no diet restrictions.