The aging process can take a toll on your teeth, gums, and mouth, just as it does on other areas of your body.
Studies show that age increases your susceptibility to plaque buildup, and any dental restorations, like fillings and dentures, begin to wear and weaken.
Additionally, teeth are known to weaken and discolor with age, plus many seniors experience diminished muscular control that makes it difficult to chew or wear dentures, as noted by Canoga Park Cosmetic Dentists, Dr. Edalat & Dr. Kalai.
Common oral changes for the elderly include:
● Attrition – simple wear and tear of tooth enamel due to years of chewing and grinding
● Dry mouth – due to medications, smoking, alcohol consumption
● Root decay – prolonged bacteria buildup leading to gum recession and tooth decay
● Disease – increased risk of oral cancer
Maintain Oral Health for the Elderly
Fortunately, these potential changes do not necessarily present a risk to the healthy and functionally independent seniors. This is because the good dental habits that keep your mouth healthy when young are the same ones that ensure dental health as you age.
Oral health care requires you to take into consideration oral cleanliness, dental pain, saliva production, and the health of your gums and mucosal tissues, lips, tongue, natural teeth, and any dental restorations and replacements. Typical practices may include:
1. Check what you eat.
Anything that you consume directly impacts the health of your mouth. So, you should limit the frequency of eating sugary and sticky foods; eat more nutritious snacks, such as nuts, yogurt, and fresh fruit; maintain a balanced diet; and eat fresh crunchy fruits, like apples and carrots (slice them for easier eating).
2. Check what you drink.
Due to increased tooth wear, you should not only consume foods rich in calcium and phosphorus, but also increase your fluoride use to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce acid erosion. This can be done by drinking more of fluoridated water; drinking water after meals/snacks/medications; reducing the amount of sugar in beverages; limiting the intake of sugary and acidic drinks (soda, energy drinks, fruit juice); and keeping the mouth moist by regularly sipping water.
3. Check how you clean your mouth.
Proper oral hygiene removes food debris in the mouth and prevents the buildup of plaque and acids that destroy the teeth, gums, and surrounding tissues. To keep your mouth clean and healthy, you should floss once a day; brush twice a day using a soft-bristled brush and fluoridated toothpaste; change your toothbrush every 3 months or after treating an infection; clean your teeth replacements properly.
Beyond these basic oral health practices, you should discuss with your dentist about ways to strengthen your cheek and tongue muscles and promote saliva secretion, as well as healthy lifestyle habits that will not adversely affect your teeth, like using sugarless medication and quitting smoking.