Maintaining Good Dental Health as a senior

It’s not only the young who should be concerned about oral health but according to the specialists at Family Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry of Brooklyn, seniors must also observe good dental hygiene.
Some would say that the shortage of affordable dental options for older patients, makes healthy hygiene more important to seniors than any other group.

Fortunately, older adults who don’t mind making going that extra mile can maintain picture perfect smiles. Here’s what every senior should know about caring for their teeth.

Common Dental Problems Facing Seniors

Seniors tend to have more plaque build-up than other age groups. Dental experts link this excess plaque to two factors 1) side effects of medications often prescribed to adults over 50. 2) As we age, dental work sometimes takes a back seat to the more severe health conditions that naturally occur in adults over 55. However, if neglected, plaque can harden into tartar causing enamel to thin, and when left untreated, tooth decay develops.

As such, dental care for seniors involves many different considerations.

Two tell-tale signs to look out for if you are older are teeth stains and heightened tooth sensitivity. These are early warnings that point to weak tooth enamel and a receding gum line. Cavities and periodontal disease are other common problems among senior citizens.

‘Dry mouth’ is another issue affecting seniors. Since saliva prevents bacteria from eroding tooth enamel, anything that reduces saliva production; such as certain medications can cause cavities.

Preventative Measures & Good Habits

Regular brushing and flossing are critical for seniors. In addition to brushing, there are many specially formulated toothpaste and other tooth care kits for older adults. There are even products made for seniors with sensitive teeth. You can also find modified toothbrushes and dental floss if arthritis is an issue you face.

Food is another item that has a significant impact on our dental health. Perhaps, this applies doubly to seniors. Indeed, this is one of the reasons dentists encourage older individuals to avoid foods that are sticky or sugary. It is also helpful for elders to avoid coffee and cigarettes. However, if you must take them, remember to do so in moderation.

Likewise, anyone with poorly controlled diabetes must be extra vigilant regarding your teeth, as diabetes can reduce blood flow to the gums. Hence, if you’re taking insulin, it’s not a bad idea to seek a periodontist for examination.

Of course, if you’re experiencing pain or tooth loss, you should visit your dentist right away. Ignoring these issues, on the other hand, can lead to a full-fledged dental crisis, with minimum chances of recovery.

Finding Affordable Dental Care

Adding to the list of issues standing between seniors and good dental health is the high cost of treatment options for seniors, who no longer have group health coverage. The good news is that there are many dental insurance plans, along with discount medical programs designed just for seniors.  There are also dental schools that offer free or low-cost treatment to seniors. Likewise, if you’re enrolled in a veteran health plan, you may be eligible for certain dental benefits.

Taking proper care of the teeth is essential for individuals of all ages but especially for seniors. Regular checkups, good dental hygiene, along with healthy eating habits can all contribute to better tooth health in older adults.


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