As we age, many things change, but many things also remain the same. The way we practice dental care is no exception to this. Caring for our teeth and gums is important as we age because they can become more vulnerable to increased problems developing. Let’s discuss what dental care for seniors looks like both at home and in the dentist’s chair.
Brush and Floss
One thing that remains the same about dental care for seniors is that it’s always important to brush after each meal and floss daily to maintain good dental hygiene. Brushing and flossing regularly will help to remove food debris, bacteria and plaque before it can cause tooth decay or gum disease. Good dental hygiene will also help to promote brightness and reduce dental stains from developing.
Implants and Dentures
The likelihood of having implants or dentures increases as we age. Caring for implants looks much the same as caring for natural teeth, but denture care can be a bit different to get used to. With dentures, it’s recommended that you brush them daily as you would teeth, and it’s also important to remove them nightly to protect your mouth from developing sores and so that you can soak the dentures in a cleaning solution.
Conditions and Diseases Related to Aging
There are also some common conditions and diseases related to aging that affect dental health. One of these conditions is xerostomia or dry mouth. Dry mouth often affects seniors because they are more likely to be prescribed medications with side effects that include reduced saliva flow. Dry mouth can become a serious issue if unaddressed because saliva is your body’s natural method of protecting your teeth. Reduced saliva flow inhibits that natural defense system and puts your teeth at greater risk of decay.
Other common conditions relating to aging can be those that affect the gums such as periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease, or gum recession due to gum disease or simple hormonal changes. Effects of these gum conditions can range from exposed roots of the teeth, root caries and tooth loss.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
Because of the increased risk for these conditions and diseases as we age, it’s important to visit a dentist regularly for an exam and thorough cleaning. It’s also important to see a dentist who understands dental care for seniors. While a regular dentist may treat a few patients with similar conditions, implants or dentures, a geriatric dentist specialized in treating senior patients will have much more experience. Increased experience can mean that your dentist is more likely to recognize issues before they develop into problems and is more rehearsed in efficiently and comfortably treating problems if they do arise.
It’s important to know that your dentist is knowledgeable, practiced and ready to handle the unique challenges you may face. That’s why many seniors seeking dental care choose to opt for a geriatric dentist. A geriatric dentist is your best resource if you’re looking for someone who specializes in dental care for seniors and the unique challenges related to aging.
Call our Sun City West Dental Office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.