Maintaining oral health in elderly is easy, said no one ever! Even though oral health and hygiene are an integral part of the overall health of seniors, seniors and their loved ones fail to devote the kind of care that oral health deserves. As a result, seniors face various dental issues including pain and tooth sensitivity, bleeding gums, dry mouth and gum diseases. Oral health issues in seniors are directly linked to heart conditions, diabetes, and even cancer.
The WHO indicates that people who are above 65 relatively develop more oral health issues than the younger age groups. In addition, gum recession caused by gum diseases is the biggest concern for tooth loss in elderly.
What are the symptoms of dental problems in seniors?
The thumb rule to take good care of oral health is to not wait until the symptoms are visible. It is highly recommended for seniors to consult your dentist at least twice a year. If you have been missing out on this and started experiencing the following symptoms, you should make an appointment with your dentist at the earliest.
- Bleeding gums during or after brushing or flossing
- Sudden sensitivity and inability to taste hot and cold foods or drinks
- Pain, toothache, and loose tooth causing pain while chewing
- Bad breath associated with swollen cheek and pain
- Chronic bad breath and dry mouth
- Ulcers inside the mouth, broken or cracked teeth
What are the types of dental issues in seniors?
The good news is that most dental and oral health issues can be prevented by taking good care of the gums and teeth. If you have been experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, your doctor is likely to concede the diagnosis with any of the following conditions.
- Dry mouth – Mostly occurring as a side effect of certain medications, dry mouth is one of the most common issues in senior oral health. The reduced saliva in the mouth can lead to bad breath and poor digestion.
- Darkened teeth – Darkened teeth can be a sign of a serious dental issue in some cases. In a few, it can be due to the reduced dentin and thinning of the external enamel layer which allows the yellow dentil to be visible.
- Gum disease – Another major oral health concern in seniors, gum disease is caused by accumulated plaque and worsened by the food that got stuck between teeth. Health issues like diabetes, lifestyle habits like tobacco consumption, and poor fitting of dentures can also lead to gum diseases.
Root decay, poor diet habits, reduced dental hygiene, and tooth loss can also contribute to dental issues in elders, significantly.
What are the important oral health tips for seniors?
Seniors show the signs of periodontal issues more than any other age group. Seniors can avoid a plethora of oral conditions by just following the stringent dental care combined with nutritious diet for elders. Here are a few important oral health tips you should practice on a daily basis.
- Brush and floss the right way:
- You should brush your teeth for 3 minutes, twice a day. Not more, not less – three minutes. One and half minutes for the upper teeth and the remaining time for the lower teeth.
- The pressure should be not too much or too less while brushing or flossing. Experts advise using the non-dominant hand while brushing to apply the right pressure.
- Choose the right brush for you:
- Stiff bristles can cause bleeding gums and soft ones fail to remove the plaque. Ask your dental expert to find the right toothbrush for you.
- Use fluoride toothpaste for brushing and change your brush once every 3 months.
- Nutritious diet for seniors:
- Oral health of elders cannot be completed without the mention of diet tips for seniors. Diet is an integral part of your oral health. Starting from curbing the bleeding gums to preventing chronic bad breath, diet plays an important role.
- Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables on a daily basis and stay away from flavored and sugary drinks. Try to avoid refined sugar completely.
- Evaluate your dental health:
- Dental checkups are part of lifestyle in many of the premium assisted living facilities and senior living communities. Because these higher levels of senior care institutes have realized the importance of dental care.
- Take charge of your oral health by visiting your dentist proactively once every 6 months.
Avoid tobacco consumption, brush the right way, and eat all the nutritious foods to have healthy teeth and gums even in the advanced age. Your little positive changes in lifestyle and food habits will reflect in your smile, irrespective of your age.