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The Importance of Elderly Dental Care

As the population ages, elderly dental care is becoming more and more important.

While good dental health is important at every age, scenarios unique to the older generations make dental care for seniors even more important.  Some of my favorite clients are the older ones.  I love helping them manage their unique dental needs.

Dry mouth

 As we age our saliva decreases. Saliva is important for many reasons. It keeps fragile gum tissues lubricated, buffers acids in foods that can cause tooth decay and is an important part of the digestive process.

Medications

elderly dental care includes watching for  dental health risks that are unique to the older generation.

If you take medications it is very likely that your mouth is even drier. It is estimated that 80% of all medications cause dry mouth.  Many seniors take medicines and should be aware of this important side effect.

Receded gums and exposed roots

The roots of your teeth are sometimes exposed due to a receding gum line. Because they are not protected by enamel, exposed roots are more prone to getting cavities.

If your mouth is dry and you have exposed roots, you have two additional risk factors for tooth decay. If you add a little sugar to your coffee or drink a soda everyday that is a third risk factor.  Sugar in your diet is worse for your teeth when combined with a dry mouth or exposed roots.

Gum disease

AKA periodontal disease... Gum disease can occur at any age. However, teeth tend to become more crowded and gums more receded as we age, making it harder to keep plaque thoroughly removed and gum disease more likely.

Limited fine motor skills

Most of us didn't grow up flossing or using anything more than a toothbrush to clean our teeth and yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks:) But fingers with arthritis may not be up for the task of flossing.Some of the latest floss alternatives are ideal for seniors who are not able to, or have no interest in using floss.

General health

studies linking gum disease and many chronic diseases should make healthy gums a high priority for all ages.Seniors with additional risk factors for diseases should be even more motivated to keep their gums free of gingivitis and other types of gum disease.

Action plan for prevention

Cavity and gum disease prevention should be stepped up to counteract the increased risk that comes with age.

Brushing, flossing, using a Waterpik or Hydrofloss dental irrigator is helpful.

Using a prescription strength fluoride gel such as Colgate Prevident or the OTC product ACT fluoride rinse is a great idea. It makes those exposed roots stronger and prevents cavities.

To keep your gums healthy, don't miss your dental check ups. Seniors should see their hygienist at least every 6 months. Early signs of gum disease can be found and treated when they are more curable.

A message from the ADA about the importance of elderly dental care


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