Dental hygiene habits are often formed at a young age and persist throughout life. Our teeth and oral health become more important as we age; oral care is critical to maintaining healthy teeth and identifying or preventing the development of other diseases.
Even though a person’s oral health possibly deteriorates because of the natural changes that occur with age, maintenance is possible with routine care and check-ups.
Significance of Dental Care for Older Adults
The hard outer shell of our tooth, called the enamel, is the most robust tissue in our body. It may be worn down over time by regular biting and grinding. The teeth are subjected to more damage from eating, drinking, chemical consumption (like sugar and vinegar that thins the enamel of the teeth), and bacteria as we get on in years.
We also must remember that the ability to practice good daily oral hygiene declines with age due to various factors, including an increase in the prevalence of infections, decreased hand dexterity, and decreased eyesight. Antihypertensives, diuretics, antihistamines, and opioids may cause dry mouth, increasing tooth decay risk.
Good oral hygiene should be a priority for everyone, regardless of age. Continue reading to learn more about gracefully maintaining your teeth and gums as you age.
Maintaining Healthy Teeth and Gums
As people become older, maintaining proper dental hygiene becomes more critical. When you have poor dental health, the discomfort might make it difficult to sleep and rest.
It also affects an older adult’s capacity to converse and communicate effectively, as well as their appearance, self-esteem, and confidence.
Here are some basic dental hygiene routines and recommendations to help keep the mouth, gums, and teeth in the best condition:
- Daily Brushing and Flossing
First on our list is the most common and primary dental routine care, brushing, and flossing. Always use fluoride toothpaste while brushing your teeth (minimum of 2 minutes, at least twice a day). Use floss to get rid of food that is stuck between your teeth. Do this every day or as often as you need to.
When it comes to keeping the mouth clean, individuals who use dentures can gently use a soft, clean cloth to wipe away plaque from the gums.
- Enhance Fluoridation
The enamel of your teeth is strengthened and protected by fluoride. Dentists often advise seniors at risk of tooth decay to convert to a fluoride toothpaste or use a fluoride rinse as part of their regular oral care practice.
- Rinsing with an Antibacterial Mouthwash
After brushing and flossing your teeth, you must use an antibacterial mouthwash to rinse your mouth. It will help eliminate dangerous microorganisms in your teeth and gums and prevent plaque formation.
- Lessen Your Sugar Intake
Tooth decay is directly related to sugar consumption. As a result of consuming sugary meals, these molecules interact with the mouth’s natural saliva and bacteria. If you combine these factors, you’ll end up with dental plaque. Plaque, if left on teeth, may cause enamel to erode and cavities to form.
Limit the consumption of sugary and starchy foods, carbonated beverages, sports drinks, and sugar-preserved dried fruits. If you consume sugary treats or drinks, it’s essential to clean your teeth or at least rinse your mouth thoroughly to remove any lingering sugar.
- Stay Away from Tobacco Products
Cigarette smoking is linked to various medical issues and premature mortality. Certain mental health issues, such as depression and the loss of memory and cognitive abilities, as well as physical health issues, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and lung difficulties, may be worsened by smoking.
Besides the obvious health risks, almost 43% of persons aged 65 or older who smoked cigarettes in their youth have lost their teeth. Additionally, smokeless tobacco has been associated with an increase in oral cancer and the development of white or gray patches inside the mouth.
- Hydrate Yourself More
Drinking more water helps prevent cavities from forming in teeth. The acid in your mouth is neutralized by the water you use to wash away the sugar and bacteria.
Soda, fruit juice, and sports drinks all include excessive sugar and should be avoided. These sugary beverages may raise the pH of your mouth, which can damage your enamel, lead to dental cavities, and eventually result in tooth loss.
- Take the Daily Recommended Calcium and Vitamin D Intake
Daily calcium intake builds the enamel, which protects your teeth from erosion and cavities. Vitamin D intake is also advised since it assists in calcium absorption. Many individuals turn to dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt as a good source of the recommended calcium of 1,000-2,000 mg daily.
According to Harvard Medical School research, getting at least 900 mg of calcium from our daily diet should be enough. Yet, if you are doubtful, see your doctor before taking a calcium supplement.
However, receiving enough vitamin D through sunlight and food sources might be challenging. Many medical professionals advocate taking a vitamin D supplement of 800 IU to 1,000 IU daily.
- Proper Denture Maintenance
The American Dental Association estimates that 57% of adults aged 65-74 now use dentures of some kind. Seniors with dentures must take good care of them since good dentures are costly and hard to procure. Seniors may avoid gum disease and other oral health problems by taking care of their dentures. Good dentures should last five to 10 years, depending on how elders care for them.
Just like natural teeth, dentures need to be cleaned twice a day. It is advised to sanitize and clean dentures by soaking them in a solution that can eliminate bacteria and clean them without damaging them. Brushing a denture is similar to brushing natural teeth, except you shouldn’t use toothpaste on them since it might wear down the acrylic or porcelain material.
Dentures that do not fit properly and rest directly on the gums may lead to discomfort and gum disease. Sore gums, discomfort, bleeding, or reddening are all signs that your dentures may not fit properly. If your dentures have been giving you trouble lately, especially if they are causing discomfort or irritation, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist.
- Be Wary of Any Medication-Related Dental Side Effects
A dry mouth is only one side effect that certain drugs might have on your oral health. Even though dry mouth is a frequent dental issue, it may be detrimental to your oral health since it makes it easier for plaque to cling to the surface of your teeth, increasing the likelihood of developing cavities and gum disease.
Check your oral health regularly when taking medication. If you’ve noticed any oral issues, speak with your dentist as soon as possible.
- Routine Dental Check-ups
The American Dental Association suggests receiving a dental check-up at least once every six months. Tooth decay and gum disease, the two most prevalent problems dentists see, may be avoided with regular check-ups.
The likelihood of preventing and treating tooth decay and periodontal diseases can be delayed in older adults who have reduced mobility and thus may not attend the dentist as frequently as they otherwise would.
At Tita Homecare, you can ensure that we can help you stay on schedule with your check-ups with the aid of our compassionate and experienced caregivers. You can click here to learn more.
A beautiful, healthy smile may be maintained throughout life with the help of routine dental care, preventative measures, and a balanced lifestyle. If you and your dentist work together, you may lessen the possibility of dental health issues as you age and maintain your teeth in good shape for life.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re missing teeth, has a complete set, or don’t have any teeth; maintaining good dental hygiene is always essential. Follow the simple steps above, and you’ll always have a beautiful and healthy smile as you get on in years.
Express Home Care Services for You or Your Aging Loved One
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DISCLAIMER: The information and other content provided in this blog, website, or related links are not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment by your doctor.