How Can Older Adults Protect Their Teeth as They Age?
As we age, we may experience an overall decline in the health of our teeth and gums. We may also find that certain foods we used to enjoy now lack flavor (e.g. not as sweet, salty, bitter, sour or savory). Some changes in taste and oral health are a normal part of aging.
Older adults may notice tooth decay, or buildup of bacteria in and around the teeth and gums. Increased decay can lead to gum disease, causing inflamed and tender gums and in some instances bleeding. Many seniors also experience dry mouth, typically caused by common medications used to treat high blood pressure, depression or bladder-control problems. More serious oral health issues can lead to oral cancer if the symptoms are not caught and treated in earlier stages.
One of the most important preventative steps you can take to protect your oral health is to have your teeth and gums checked regularly by a dentist. During the appointment, make sure to mention any symptoms or changes of taste you have been experiencing as well as any medications you are currently taking. Regular dental exams help detect abnormalities before they become bigger problems, offering solutions through treatment, surgical procedures or assistive devices, such as dentures.
You can also consult with your primary care physician. Your doctor may refer you to other experts, such as an otolaryngologist, and can provide resources for finding low-cost dental care, if needed.
Here are a few other helpful tips to protect your teeth and gums as you age:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Floss regularly
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Quit smoking; smoking increases your risk for gum disease
- For older adults with arthritis or other conditions, use alternatives to a standard toothbrush such as an electric or battery-operated toothbrush or one with a larger handle
- Limit consumption of alcohol, caffeine, soft drinks and acidic fruit juices
- Substitute regular candies for sugarless hard candy or gum
- Avoid tobacco products
- Try adding color or texture to your meals to make food more interesting (herbs, spices, bright vegetables)
For answers to all your aging questions, start with Tabitha. Contact a Senior Care Expert today.