Senior citizens are at a high risk for gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss. There are several factors for this, mainly, years of wear and tear take a heavy toll on your teeth – chewing, drinking acidic beverages like juice or coffee, and teeth grinding can all lead to damage. Compounding this issue is that in their youth, many seniors didn’t have access to fluoridated water while as they age, they may lose access to visiting a dentist on a regular basis.
As you age, it’s so important to maintain your dental health. Not only does it reduce the risk of decay that can lead to pain and abscess and a need for extractions and dentures, healthy teeth reduce the risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease. We want your senior years to be healthy, which is why our Cary dentist is sharing some tips that make it easier to keep up with your dental health as you get older.
Switch to an Electric Toothbrush
For many seniors, gripping a manual toothbrush and brushing can be difficult due to arthritis or disability. An electric toothbrush minimizes the need for dexterity and reduces the amount of strain that regular brushing can cause to your wrists, hands, and fingers. The Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean gets high marks for effectively cleaning plaque while being gentle enough for sensitive teeth and gums, though any ADA-approved electric toothbrush can be beneficial.
Consider a Water Flosser Instead of Dental Floss
Like a manual toothbrush, using traditional string dental floss may be challenging or painful for those with limited mobility. Also, for older people with receding or sensitive gums, floss can be more uncomfortable. Again, technology steps in to minimize those challenges by way of a water flosser.
Easy to hold and grip, simply fill a reservoir or connect a hose to the faucet and direct a stream of lightly pressurized water at a 90 degree angle to your teeth and gums. It rinses away debris from between the teeth and around the gumline, reducing inflammation and effectively cleaning hard to reach spaces between the teeth.
Stay Hydrated and Drink Plenty of Water
Senior citizens are at a much higher risk for dental health complications caused by xerostomia, or chronic dry mouth. Many medications, including beta-blockers, antihistamines, heart rhythm medications, and SSRIs can cause dry mouth. Because saliva is necessary to keep your mouth rinsed of debris throughout the day, xerostomia can lead to an increased risk of cavities, gum disease, mouth sores, and cracks in the corners of your mouth.
Make sure you’re drinking water throughout the day, especially during and after meals to keep your mouth rinsed and to boost saliva production. If you struggle to remember to drink water, set an alarm or a reminder or keep a lightweight pitcher and cup or a travel cup of water nearby to sip throughout the day.
Keep Up with Dental Checkups
Many people over the age of 65 forgo dental checkups, but they’re more important than ever. There are several factors that affect this – lack of transportation and insurance are the key issues. Contact the Resources for Seniors, Inc. in Raleigh at 919-872-7933 for free and low-cost transportation or check out care.com for personal senior transportation.
If cost is a concern, while Medicare Part A and B don’t cover dental care, if you have Medicare Part C (primarily used for prescriptions and supplemental coverage), your plan most likely covers at least a portion of care.
Schedule Your Appointment with Our Cary Dentists Today
We work with patients of all ages and are dedicated to helping you experience your best dental health, no matter where you are in life. To schedule an appointment, give our dentist office in Cary a call at (919) 467-2203 or reach out to our Holly Springs dentist office at (919) 600-6262 and you can also use a contact form to request an appointment.