Dental Care Tips For Seniors

As we age, we may face certain oral health issues such as dry mouth, attrition, diseases, root decay, and sensitivity. As we get older dental hygiene is more important than ever if you want to prevent dental health issues in the future. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 16% of seniors aged 65 and older report that the condition of their teeth and mouth is poor (1). Not taking care of aging teeth can lead to many oral health issues and even increase the risk for diabetes and heart disease (2). 

Help care for your aging parent’s teeth by following these simple hygiene tips!

 

  • Visit your dentist at least twice a year 

Regular dentist checkups help detect problems before they get worse.  Set a reminder and mark your calendars every 6 months to make a dentist trip. The dentist will check your loved one’s gums and teeth to make sure they are in good shape. 

 

*Eden Senior Care tip for dementia caregivers* 

Make sure to schedule the appointments necessary for your dementia patient. Depending on your senior’s teeth conditions, you might need to make a few trips a year. Use reminders on your smartphone and calendar apps of any upcoming checkups. 

 

  • Brush and floss daily 

In order to have healthy, clean teeth, flossing and brushing regularly are key. In older adults, it may be difficult to brush or floss due to arthritis, but there are alternative tools they can use. You can purchase ready-to-use dental flossers or use a water floss tool. Electric toothbrushes have also been proven to work better than manual toothbrushes, and they have a helpful timer installed to know exactly how long to brush for. 

 

*Eden Senior Care tip for dementia caregivers* 

Always tell dementia patients what you are going to do before doing so. This will eliminate confusion for them and make brushing and flossing daily easier for you. 

 

  • Use antibacterial mouthwash 

Use mouthwash after brushing and flossing to help reduce the buildup of plaque (3). During your next dental visit, ask your dentist which mouthwash is right for your loved one. Luckily there are many options to choose from, depending on your specific concerns. There are mouthwashes for bad breath, dry mouth, or gum issues. Please note, mouthwash should not replace your regular brushing and flossing routine. 

 

*Eden Senior Care tip for dementia caregivers* 

Talk with your dentist about alternatives if swallowing mouthwash is an issue for your loved one.

 

  • Increase fluoridation 

Switch to a fluoride toothpaste or fluoride mouthwash. Older individuals have an increased risk for cavities and fortunately, fluoride is a leading defense against tooth decay. It works by fighting germs that can lead to decay, as well as providing a protective barrier for your teeth (4). You do not want cavities to form and especially ignore them because they can result in tooth damage, infection, and in some cases, tooth loss. 

 

  • Avoid tobacco 

Avoid tobacco at all costs. Tobacco has been linked to an increased risk of mouth and throat cancer. Chewing tobacco can also lead to more decay because of the sugar it contains (3). According to the American Cancer Society, the average age of most people diagnosed with oral cancers is 63, but it can also occur in young people. Just over 20% (1 in 5) of cases occur in patients younger than 55.

 

  • Monitor your sugar intake 

Sugar = cavities. We know that sugar plays a big role in cavities but this also includes processed foods with added sugar. Try to limit your intake and if you have a sweet tooth, try out a sugar-free alternative. 

 

  • Drink lots of water 

Instead of reaching for the sugary drinks, pour your loved one a glass of water. Sugar-sweetened beverages are the number one source of added sugars in the typical diet of those in the U.S., and sipping on soda, juice, or other sugary drinks can lead to a higher risk of cavities (5). 

 

  • Care for your dentures 

Dentures require special care and it’s important to follow your dentist’s instructions to care for them. During your checkups get your loved one’s dentures checked out or if your loved one is experiencing any problems with them. 

 

  • Get your daily dose of calcium 

Older adults need 1,000 milligrams a day of calcium to prevent osteoporosis which can affect the bone surrounding their teeth (3). You can find calcium in dairy products, green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, or fish with edible soft bones such as sardines or canned salmon. Eat more of these to keep your loved one’s bones and teeth strong. 

 

  • Limit sugary and acidic foods

Acids from sugary foods erode the enamel of your teeth and lead to cavities (4). You can still enjoy acidic fruits and coffee but you should be mindful of your intake. 

 

  • Look for early signs of gum disease

If your loved one is experiencing any redness, swelling, bleeding gums, dry mouth, loose teeth, or mouth pain, you should visit your dentist right away. These are early symptoms of gum disease. 

 

Disclaimer: 

This blog is made for educational purposes only as well as general information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for medical advice from your physician/doctor. Always consult your physician for specific medical advice.