Taking proper oral care is important for everyone but It’s even more crucial for elderly people as they often face unique challenges. No doubt that seniors are more prone to gum disease or tooth loss and other similar issues.
Another alarming thing is, studies have shown that- chronic oral infection might contribute to aspiration pneumonia which is arguably the leading cause of death from infection for those who are aged above 65. Also, such infection contributes to other diseases like- cancer, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
If seniors put enough attention to their oral care, their overall health will be improved for sure.
In today’s blog, we are going to take a deep dive into the topic- oral care for seniors.
Basic oral care
We have previously shared oral hygiene tips on our blog. Basic care is the same for everyone no matter how old they are. You can check that blog to have a detailed idea and we are sharing the gist here again:
- Brush teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste and brush for 2 minutes each time. Brushing after supper is a must. But make sure to use a soft-bristled brush and do not brush for too long.
- Floss teeth every day before brushing at night.
- Tongue cleaning is important to get rid of all the bacteria build-up inside the mouth.
Habits that can be extremely beneficial
Habits are often underestimated but they can save you BIG in the long run. If you maintain a proper diet, drink enough water, do not smoke or chew tobacco and stop eating sugary food or drinking sugary drinks- you will be capable of avoiding most dental issues as well as other diseases. Bring these good habits into your life as early as you can.
Those who are already 60 or above, remember the most important thing- “it’s always better late than never”.
Unique oral health challenges seniors face
In the USA- 1 out of 5 people aged 65 or above have a history of untreated tooth decay and nearly ⅔ of them suffer from gum disease. Many of them have lost multiple teeth already and almost all of them suffer from tooth sensitivity. Even oral cancer is quite common among them. Also, as they often suffer from chronic diseases like- diabetes or cardiovascular diseases- they are always at high risk of causing gum diseases.
But don’t get panicked already, everything can be sorted if care is done properly. Issues like- sensitivity and decaying can be kept under control if you maintain proper diet and hygiene along with getting regular dental checkups done.
2 most common dental concerns of seniors are discussed below along with the remedies:
- Dealing with dry mouth
Seniors often have to deal with dry mouth situations due to side effects of medicines, dehydration, chronic diseases, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or maybe nerve damage. If you maintain the proper oral care routine and adopt habits like- drinking more water and avoiding caffeine and tobacco- then you can probably deal with the situation without any medical treatment.
But in some cases, your dentist might suggest you take medicine that helps the salivary glands work better or artificial saliva to keep your mouth wet.
- Denture maintenance
Most elderly people wear dentures and maintaining the denture properly is important for their overall health. Here are some important tips for denture care:
Clean dentures daily: Remove and rinse dentures after eating to remove food particles and debris. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush or denture brush to clean all surfaces of the dentures thoroughly. Avoid using toothpaste or abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the dentures.
Handle dentures with care: When cleaning or handling dentures, fill the sink with water or place a towel in the sink to prevent breakage if they are accidentally dropped. Avoid using hot water, as it can warp dentures.
Brush your gums, tongue, and palate: Before wearing dentures, gently brush your gums, tongue, and palate with a soft-bristle toothbrush. This helps remove plaque and stimulates circulation in the oral tissues.
Soak dentures overnight: When not wearing dentures, it’s important to keep them moist to prevent them from drying out or warping. Soak them in a denture-cleaning solution or plain water overnight. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific cleaning solution.
Visit the dentist regularly: Regular dental check-ups are important, even if you have dentures. The dentist can examine your mouth, check the fit of your dentures, and make any necessary adjustments or repairs.
Avoid using harmful substances: Avoid using bleach, abrasive cleaners, or harsh chemicals to clean dentures, as they can damage the denture material. Additionally, avoid using toothpicks or sharp objects on your dentures, as they can cause scratches.
Maintain oral hygiene: Even with dentures, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene. Brush your natural teeth (if you have any) with a soft-bristle toothbrush twice a day. Clean your tongue and gums with a soft brush or a damp cloth.
Proper storage: When not wearing dentures, store them in a denture case filled with water or denture solution. This helps them retain their shape and prevents them from drying out.
So, if you want to stay healthy and live longer while having a great smile with perfect teeth- maintain proper oral care, and a balanced diet and don’t forget to visit your dentist at least twice a year. Having a dental checkup done every 6 months can help you to find out any dental issue at the primary stage and treat it early.
Feel free to call us if you have any queries or if you notice anything weird in your mouth.