In our recent blog entries, we have been focusing on the importance of oral health at all stages of life and today we will talk about oral health concerns for older adults. According to the American Dental Association, getting older doesn’t mean losing all your teeth; with healthy habits, adults should be able to keep their teeth for life. Many people believe that everyone will need dentures at some point. This is an outdated believe, though. These days, more 75% of adults over age 65 still have some or all of their teeth remaining. This is due to increased preventative measures by dental providers and the introduction of fluoride to toothpaste and drinking water. A healthy mouth and teeth can really improve your quality of life and overall health. In our blog today, we will talk about some unique dental health concerns that adults encounter as they age. We will also provide some tips for how maintain the health of your dentition for as long as possible.
At Matthew Nawrocki General and Cosmetic Dentistry we care about our patients. We want our patients to be educated on all things dentistry and to feel free to ask us about any issues and concerns that they may have. One of the ways that we keep our patients up to date on everything dental is with our weekly blogs. Dr. Nawrocki is a prosthodontist who has been accredited by the American College of Prosthodontists. This means that he has extensive training on the various ways that missing teeth can be replaced, from conventional dentures to implants. We are always accepting new patients from in and around the Orange Park area and hope that you can find a dental home here! As always, please feel free to contact us at any time electronically to schedule a consultation or call (904)602-8396.
Brushing: Electronic V. Manual Toothbrushes
In order to keep your teeth and gums healthy and clean, you should brush twice per day with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Many older adults, especially those suffering from arthritis, complain that they have trouble using or holding a toothbrush properly. If you have this problem, you may want to try an electric toothbrush, which will better clean the hard to reach areas. Most electric toothbrushes also have two-minute timers on them so that you know you are brushing for the right amount of time.
Xerostomia: Dry Mouth
Do you have trouble eating a cracker or a piece of dry toast without using water to wash it down? Do you constantly have a bad taste in your mouth that just doesn’t seem to go away? These may be signs that you are suffering from dry mouth, also know as xerostomia. Many older adults take multiple medications everyday—some of the medications, especially when combined together, can lead to serious dry mouth issues. Saliva is necessary to help you eat and talk and also naturally cleanses the teeth and gums throughout the day. To help combat dry mouth, try sucking on sugar-free lozenges or chewing sugar-free gum throughout the day and be sure to avoid alcohol and tobacco, which can make dry mouth worse.
Dentures, Partial Dentures, and Implants
If you have lost some or all of your teeth, you may be interested in replacing those teeth with some form of dentures or implants. Traditional dentures can sometimes be difficult for many patients to get used to. If you are unhappy with the fit or function of your traditional or removable dentures, consider using implants to improve their stability. If you wear dentures currently, it is important to take them out every night and clean them daily. Do not use toothpaste that is made for natural teeth to clean your dentures, as the abrasiveness can damage them.
Many older adults develop gum disease at some point in their lives. This can cause the teeth to become loose and fall out. It can also cause the gums to recede and expose the roots, which can result in cavities forming on the roots of the teeth. To combat gum disease, be sure to floss your teeth daily and visit the dentist for regular cleanings every 3-6 months. Even if you only have a few teeth, it is very important to keep them clean. If you have difficulties using dental floss, try using pre-threaded flossers or wooden plaque removers to clean between the teeth and gums.
We hope that you learned something new today and encourage you to share some of these tips and tricks with your elderly family members. If you have any additional questions or would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nawrocki, please contact us at any time electronically or call (904)602-8396.