As you age, dry mouth, grinding and attrition, gum disease, and root decay become dental concerns if you still have your natural teeth.
As an older adult, you may be facing these challenges with dental health that you did not have to contend with when you were younger. Routine care like brushing and flossing is important, but seniors have extra considerations when it comes to taking care of dental health. Here’s what you can do to ensure your dental health stays optimal.
- Carefully monitor your medications and tell your dentist what you are taking. Dry mouth fosters cavities, which makes seniors just as prone to them as young children. Contrary to popular belief though, dry mouth isn’t a normal aspect of aging but is actually a side effect hundreds of medications produce. Your dentist can recommend dry mouth remedies based on your medications and the shape your teeth are in. You should also inform your dentist if you have heart or joint conditions before undergoing procedures as you may need an antibiotic first.
- Drink water more often. Keeping your mouth lubricated even if you aren’t thirsty to help mitigate dry mouth. It also helps to avoid food and drink that irritate dry mouths like coffee, alcohol, and carbonated beverages.
- Keep a close watch for signs of oral cancer. Mouth cancer is commonly a senior health issue as the average age of diagnosis is 62. Oral cancer usually doesn’t cause pain and is hard to detect early. Subsequently, it is extremely important that your dentist looks for signs of oral cancer and that you get a checkup at least twice a year. Notify your dentist immediately if you have open sores or white and reddish patches on your lips, tongue, or inside of your mouth that persists for more than two weeks.
- Use antibacterial mouthwash. Avoiding bacteria build-up and subsequent infections can be done easily with antibacterial mouthwash. Rinse with it at least twice a day.
- Seek help from a caregiver if you are bed-bound. Keeping your mouth clean is critical even if you have difficulty brushing and flossing. Seniors who are bed-bound or have motor control issues are particularly at risk if brushing, flossing, and rinsing your mouth becomes too hard to do on your own. Bacterial infections may develop. Whether you live at home or in assisted living, arrange for a caregiver to help you with basic oral hygiene.