Losing teeth is not a natural part of the aging process. We lose teeth due to wear, injury, or poor oral health. We all have the potential to keep our teeth for our lifetimes with proper dental care.
Today, seniors are living longer and healthier lives but commonly delay going to the dentist. Many of them stop caring or take it for granted that they will lose their teeth. Others may start to have difficulty handling a toothbrush and floss, especially if they have tremors or arthritis in their hands. It is important for their families to encourage them and find support when they need it.
Our older population is at high risk for dental disease as they tend to take more medications that diminish saliva. This creates a dry mouth condition that can impact how well they digest food and cause multiple serious cavities in a short period of time. Seniors that feel like their mouth is dry most of the time should talk to their doctor and dentist.
Another serious concern is periodontal disease. This condition, also known as gum disease, is an infection that can drain the immune system and cause other dental and medical problems. There is a growing body of research that says it can contribute to or worsen major medical conditions, like diabetes and heart disease.
Dental care is even more important as we age. In addition to health consequences and tooth loss, the financial expense of having dental emergencies can be very challenging in later years.
To protect their teeth and health, seniors should:
- Brush their teeth twice a day
- Floss once per day
- See the dentist and hygienist at least twice a year, more often if recommended
- Limit sugary snacks
- Talk to their doctor and dentist if their mouth feels chronically dry
- Consider fluoride treatments if they are prone to cavities
- Ask for ideas if they have trouble handling floss or a tooth brush
- Keep both their doctor and dentist informed of all dental and medical conditions and medications
If you or someone you love are having trouble caring for your teeth, having dental problems, or would like a dentist who understands the challenges of getting older, give us a call. We would love to help.
Ron Smith, DDS (865) 922-1613 Knoxville TN