Why Dental Care is Important for Seniors Too

Senior Dental Care

Dr. James Hallam of Laurentian Dental Centre Kitchener

Dr. James Hallam, Laurentian Dental, Kitchener

Good oral health is essential no matter what your age. Regular preventive care is vital for maintaining a healthy mouth, especially for seniors. It’s very important for our senior patients to remember that their oral health may be particularly at risk due to recession of the gums and possible changes in the composition of their saliva.

Fact is, tooth decay can continue throughout life as long as natural teeth are present in the mouth. The normal ageing process exposes more of a tooth’s root surface, which is not protected by enamel; thus, root cavities (which can be difficult to treat) may result.

Mature man smiling in dentist chair.

Smile!

Seniors need to brush and floss daily to remove plaque, and they should use fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinses. If arthritis or any other condition limits their ability to hold a toothbrush properly or to make appropriate circular, or short back-and-forth brush strokes, they may wish to consider alternative options such as an electronic toothbrush.

Some seniors experience dryness of the mouth or develop thickened saliva as a side-effect when taking certain medications. Dry mouth symptoms may also accompany emotional or physical problems and result in difficulty with eating, swallowing, tasting and speaking. If you suffer from dry mouth, drink extra water and avoid sugary snacks, caffeinated beverages, tobacco and alcohol.

“The normal ageing process exposes more of a tooth’s root surface, which is not protected by enamel; thus, root cavities (which can be difficult to treat) may result.”

If you live in a non-fluoridated area or if bottled water is your preference, you may wish to consider adding fluoride drops or tablets to your drinking water. Check with your dentist before doing this because too much fluoride can be harmful. Sugarfree hard candy may also help to stimulate saliva. If you have dentures, brush all surfaces daily and store them overnight in water or denture cleansing liquid.

Seniors should also maintain a close watch for any signs of gum disease, which includes redness, swelling or bleeding. If any of these symptoms appear, see the dentist promptly. The bottom line? An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure!

Yours for better dental health,

This article has been updated from it’s original posting in November of 2012.

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