Good oral hygiene and habits are important at any age, but you may face new oral health issues in your senior years. As we get older, certain oral conditions may suddenly crop up. Luckily, the team at JJS Dentistry can help you successfully treat and manage these challenges.
Common oral hygiene problems among seniors
Getting older puts many seniors at risk for several oral health problems, such as:
- Darkened teeth
- Dry mouth
- A diminished sense of taste
- Tooth loss
- Tooth decay
- Uneven jawbone
- Gum disease
- Thrush caused by dentures
Oral hygiene tips
Maintain regular dental visits: Even if you wear dentures, getting your teeth and gums checked is very important and will keep you one step ahead of potential oral problems.
Use an antibacterial mouthwash: When combined with brushing and flossing, an antibacterial mouthwash can reduce the buildup of tartar and plaque.
Brush and floss daily. Brush your teeth and gums with a fluoride toothpaste, twice a day, for at least two minutes. Also, floss your teeth at least once a day. If winding floss around your fingers is too difficult or painful, try using a floss pick.
Avoid smoking: Tobacco in any form has been linked to an increased risk of mouth and throat cancer, heart disease and other serious illnesses. Chewing tobacco can also lead to more decay, as many tobacco formulations contain added sugar.
Monitor your sugar intake: Make better food choices and avoid consuming candy and soda. Also, watch out for starch-filled snacks.
Increase oral hydration: Drink plenty of water and chew sugar-free gum. Avoid alcohol also tends to dehydrate your whole body (including your mouth)
Get your recommended calcium: Research suggests that older people need 1,000 milligrams a day of calcium to prevent osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can affect the bone surrounding your teeth.
How to use a toothbrush (if you have arthritis)
Older adults with arthritis may have trouble brushing their teeth because they can’t easily grip the toothbrush. Their hands and fingers may be painful, stiff, or weak. If this is the case, using an electric toothbrush can prove to be quite effective. An electric toothbrush will have a larger handle making it easier to hold while also lessening the amount of pressure and movement needed to brush effectively. Modern electric toothbrushes also include a pressure sensor that will let you know if you are pushing too hard or brushing too aggressively.
Caring for your dentures
Dentures can make life easier for many elderly people, but they require special care. We recommend coming in for an annual checkup to check that your dentures still fit perfectly.
To care for dentures:
- Store dentures in denture-cleaning liquid or lukewarm water overnight. Do not put them in hot water or let them dry out.
- To clean dentures, wet your toothbrush and brush the dentures with a denture cleanser. Do not brush with toothpaste as it can scratch the dentures.
- Remember to remove the dentures at night.
- Replace your dentures at least every 5 years.
The bottom line about oral hygiene for seniors
A healthy smile looks great at any age. Maintaining good oral hygiene habits, visiting your dentist regularly and making changes to your daily routine will help you maintain a gorgeous smile for life. At JJS Dentistry, we explain all the dental risks that come with ageing. The aim is to work together with you to prevent oral health problems so you can keep your teeth for a lifetime.
We also create customised dentures and implant-supported dentures. Our implant-supported dentures provide outstanding stability while functioning just like natural teeth. An implant-supported denture sits firmly in place, making it easier for you to talk, eat, and smile with confidence.