Proper dental care seems straightforward: brush your teeth, go to the dentist, and you should be fine, right? While that is good advice, it’s important to understand how your requirements for good oral hygiene might evolve throughout life. If you know about the oral health issues that are most prevalent among older adults, you’ll be more likely to keep your healthy smile and perhaps even stay healthier overall. Here are five important facts about dental health that we think all seniors should understand:
- Seniors are at increased risk of having cavities, reduced enamel, root decay, gum disease, and other dental problems.
You’ve heard it all your life, but it’s impossible to overstress the importance of flossing and brushing every day. Regardless of age, anyone who fails to consistently brush twice a day, floss once a day, and have an oral exam every six months is at a significantly increased risk of developing potentially serious oral health problems. This risk only gets more severe as we age, so the importance of good oral hygiene increases with every year.
- Gum disease has been linked to other health problems.
The human body is a complex, interconnected system, and you never know for sure how one part will affect the rest. According to the National Institutes of Health and other authoritative sources, studies have shown a link between gum disease and heart health problems, diabetes, and risk of stroke. This does not necessarily mean that gum disease causes these health issues, but we think the connection is worth noting.
- Artificial teeth require just as much attention and care as natural teeth.
Contrary to what some people assume, dry mouth and poor dental hygiene can be just as harmful to dentures as they can be to natural teeth. Moreover, it’s important that people with false teeth always store and clean them as directed, because clean dentures help keep the gums and mouth healthy.
- Dry mouth is more serious than you might think.
Dry mouth is common among older adults for a variety of reasons. The likelihood of developing this condition increases with age in general, but it’s also a common side effect of medications and health conditions that are more common among seniors like stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. Dry mouth makes it harder to swallow, so food remnants are more likely to remain in your mouth after meals. This in turn leads to tooth decay, infections, cavities, and plaque buildup in the mouth. Dry mouth, along with poor overall oral hygiene, also increases your risk for inhaling food particles, which can lead to pneumonia (especially in seniors). Look for special mouthwashes and sprays that are designed to combat dry mouth.
- Your diet matters.
We all know that sugar is terrible for our teeth, but did you know that acidic, spicy, processed, and dry foods can also be damaging? You can protect your oral health by limiting these types of products in your diet, but it also helps to eat more of certain healthy foods. Items that provide calcium and phosphorus like cheeses and green vegetables may strengthen teeth. Foods with high water content like firm, crunchy fruits and vegetables can dilute the effects of sugar and help prevent dry mouth as well.
At Village Park Senior Living, we’re devoted to providing seniors with the resources you need to make your golden years as happy and healthy as possible. To learn what our community can do for you, contact Village Park Senior Living today. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for updates, and to check back often for new blogs.