Oral health for seniors
More seniors are keeping their teeth longer in life than they have in the past. This makes it especially important to maintain good oral health habits and regular visits to an oral health professional.
Seniors and tooth decay
If you have 1 or more of your natural teeth, then you have a risk of developing tooth decay. Seniors are more likely to have tooth decay develop around the root of the tooth.
Root surface decay happens on teeth that have previously lost the covering of the gums, due to gums receding. This is usually a result of gum disease.
It is important to maintain a regular schedule of daily brushing and flossing throughout your lifetime to prevent tooth decay. This will also help you maintain good oral health overall.
If it becomes difficult to hold a toothbrush or to floss, talk to your oral health professional. They can help you find an alternative that will work for you. There are alterations that can be made to your toothbrush to make brushing easier for you.
Caring for dentures
Your false teeth need just as much care as natural teeth. To keep bacteria and infections away:
- take your dentures out every night
- brush them (without toothpaste) and rinse them
- soak them overnight in denture cleaner or warm water
Have your oral health professional assess your dentures and your mouth regularly for any possible infection or misfit. This will help ensure your dentures are clean and intact and are fitting properly.
If there are any unexplained changes in the way your dentures fit your mouth, you should see an oral health professional.
Dry mouth (xerostomia) occurs when the glands that produce saliva stop working properly. Dry mouth is often linked to:
- use of alcohol
- Sjӧgren disease
- use of certain medications
- (blood pressure, antidepressants, pain relievers, etc.)
Lower levels of saliva can increase the potential of developing cavities. This is because your saliva is a natural cleanser in your mouth and helps wash away bacteria from your teeth.
Lower levels of saliva can also change the fit of your dentures.
You can get some relief of dry mouth symptoms by:
- chewing sugar-free gum
- increasing your water intake
- using saliva substitutes that you can buy at a pharmacy
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