As we grow older, issues with our teeth and gums can become more prevalent as time goes on. In fact, bout 75 percent of people ages 60+ have only some of their natural teeth and nearly 23 percent of adults ages 65-74 have severe gum disease. There are more information and tools to help oral hygiene for seniors than ever before, so it’s important to do whatever you can to keep your teeth or dentures in the best shape possible. When your mouth is healthy, you can eat the foods you need for good nutrition. You will also feel better about smiling, talking, and laughing.
Teeth are meant to last a lifetime so make sure you include oral hygiene in your typical hygiene routine. Some seniors may have difficulty practicing proper oral hygiene because of arthritis or other medical issues, so be sure to ask for help with oral hygiene if you need it.
Oral Hygiene For Seniors
Oral Hygiene Issues
Dry Mouth – Dry mouth is actually the most common oral hygiene issue that seniors will face as they age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 400 commonly used medications can contribute to dry mouth. This increases the risk for oral disease, as saliva helps kill bacteria and rebuild enamel. Luckily, there are a variety of different medications that can help combat dry mouth, so be sure to speak with your doctor if this issue arises.
Wear and Tear – Sometimes issues just can’t be prevented when it comes to oral hygiene for seniors. We use our teeth constantly throughout the day, and just like any body part, the physical activity can take its toll. The use of your teeth can grind away enamel, leaving your teeth more susceptible to cavities.
Gum Disease – Gum disease starts when plaque begins to build up under the gum line. This is usually caused by poor hygiene and it can be very painful and lead to a variety of other health issues. If you noticed redness or bleeding around your gums, it might be time to consult a dentist.
Tooth Decay – Oral hygiene for seniors can often get overlooked, but an issue like tooth decay is no joke. Teeth are covered in a hard, outer coating called enamel. Every day, a thin film of bacteria builds up on your teeth. Over time, the bacteria can cause holes in the enamel. These holes are called cavities. If left untreated, your teeth can literally rot away, so it’s important that you’re continuing to keep your teeth clean and healthy on a routine basis.
Oral Hygiene Solutions
Brushing – It sounds like common sense, but brushing teeth on a daily basis is a key component for oral hygiene for seniors. If the growth is not interrupted every day, it begins to destroy the outer layer of your teeth, which is the beginning of tooth decay. If ignored, the nerve inside the tooth can become infected and an abscess may form. Fluoride toothpaste is a great way to strengthen the enamel of teeth. Try to maintain a morning and nightly routine so practicing good oral hygiene is easy to remember. Many will brush their teeth directly after dinner or after they’ve taken a bath or shower or right before they go to bed each night.
Eat Healthy – Unhealthy eating is one of the biggest causes of poor oral hygiene. Sugar food and drink can rapidly progress the rate of decay, so try to stay away from soda and candy when you can. Calcium can strengthen teeth as well, so make sure to drink milk and eat foods like cheese and yogurt to strengthen enamel.
Treat Dentures Like Teeth – Many assume that since they no longer have real teeth, they can skimp on oral hygiene. Sadly, maintaining the hygiene of your dentures is just as important as it is for natural teeth. Plaque and bacteria can quickly build up on dentures, so make sure you continue to brush your dentures as well as store them in a cleaning solution specifically designed for dentures.
If you have more questions about oral hygiene, feel free to check out our FAQ section for more help!