Good oral care habits and dental hygiene are crucial at all ages, including the senior or retirement years. Seniors have many dental risk factors such as lack of fluoride, receding gum problem, arthritis, dry mouth, tooth stains, root decay, and diet. Along with children’s dental services, senior dental care services are also available to take care of seniors dental care needs.
The Importance of Senior Dental Care
As people age, medications help in lengthening people’s lifespan and also improve their quality of life. A prevalent side effect resulting from most drugs, unfortunately, is dry mouth. Saliva is one of the natural tooth protectors, thus having less of this boosts the dangers of cavities. Most people use gum or candies to combat dry mouth, but this practice will worsen the case as sugar will feed bacteria in the mouth. For stimulating saliva, dental experts offer gum made of a natural sugar substitute called xylitol, as this acts as fluoride. Some dentists suggest sugarless gum and candies. If conditions such as declining vision or arthritis make brushing difficult for elders, they can use an electric toothbrush. Visit a dentist at least two times a year.
By looking after their teeth, seniors are not ensuring just a pretty smile. Loss of a tooth can impact their self-esteem and make it difficult for them to relish their favorite foods. And if they fail to eat correctly, automatically, they will suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Besides, poor dental hygiene will allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream, thereby putting them at risk for osteoporosis, diabetes, lung infections, and heart disease. Owing to these reasons, seniors need to be proactive regarding their dental care. It includes flossing daily, brushing two times a day, and visiting the dentist regularly. The reward will be worth it; that is, good oral practice will help them keep their teeth healthy for long.
Guide to Senior Dental Care
Below are some tried and tested tips that will offer seniors a proper dental care regime,
- Visit the Dentist Regularly – Appointments with the dentist regularly can help keep teeth healthy and prevent dental issues. Every senior citizen should visit the dentist for a check-up and cleaning at least once every year for the best results.
- Evaluate the Toothbrush – seniors should keep a check as to when did they last replace their toothbrush. They need to consider a couple of factors such as the brush’s style and brand and the bristle. They should also weigh the pros and cons of manual vs. electric toothbrushes. Along with applying much pressure while brushing, the toothbrush’s bristles may be relatively stiff as well. Take the help of a dental expert on which type of toothbrush will be ideal during the senior living years. It is best to replace a toothbrush every two to three months and maybe even sooner when the bristles become irregular. The presence of bacteria on the teeth after brushing can cause severe problems like periodontitis or gingivitis.
- Avoid Tobacco – A chain smoker has a higher chance of developing gum diseases compared to a non-smoker. Besides the negative impact of tobacco, smoking also weakens the immune system and overall health, making it quite challenging to fight off any gum infection. The more a senior citizen smokes and the longer, the higher their risk will be to develop the periodontal disease while treatments may fail to work effectively for those who smoke. Any form of tobacco use, such as electronic cigarettes, dip, pipes, and cigarettes, will make them prone to gum disease. So dentists suggest quitting tobacco.
- Foods for Good Oral Health – When seniors make healthy food choices, it will help to keep their mouths healthy and happy in their later years. Some recommended drinks and foods comprise of,
- Water – It will work wonders in keeping their mouth hydrated. It is always a healthy choice for the overall health and state of the teeth when they choose water over acidic or sugary drinks such as coffee or soda.
- Low Fat Dairy- Yogurt, cheese, and milk have high protein and calcium content and less sugar content, so it helps to strengthen teeth.
- Vegetables and Fruits (with low acidity) – As vegetables and fresh fruits have water and fiber in high amounts, they balance and neutralize the mouth. Besides, they clean the teeth naturally, as they help stimulate the production of saliva and wash away harmful acids and food particles.
- Lean Meats- Lean meats rich in phosphorous and protein, such as fish, chicken, and turkey, can help strengthen and rebuild tooth enamel.
- Nuts – help protect and strengthen teeth as they have protein and stimulate the production of saliva.
For best results, seniors should limit tea and coffee intake, starch-filled foods, and sticky, sugary foods.
Everyone is susceptible to dental issues right from young to old. So it is extremely crucial to look after them. Seniors should ensure to maintain all-round dental care for a healthy lifestyle. And in case of an emergency, do not neglect the issue but consult a dentist that offers urgent dental care Chicago to avoid further complications.