Brush Up on Dental Hygiene
Some older adults may think that their dental hygiene doesn’t matter after a certain age, but the opposite is true. Older adults are more likely to experience problems with their dental health due to advanced age. Loss of teeth, tooth decay, periodontal disease, discoloration, and dry mouth are just some of the oral health concerns dentists worry about in older patients. If left untreated, these conditions can result in extensive tooth decay and gum disease. As these conditions worsen over time, older adults are at risk for needing dentures or dental implants.
To prevent the need for dentures or dental implants, proper dental hygiene is essential. It’s not true that all older adults will eventually need dentures or dental implants. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the number of older adults who experience partial or total tooth loss is decreasing. With proper dental hygiene, older adults have less than a 30% chance of needing dentures or dental implants as they age.
May is National Dental Care Awareness Month. Here are our top dental care tips to help older adults brush up on their dental hygiene.
Toss Old Toothbrushes
Proper dental hygiene starts with a fit toothbrush. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends a new toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles become frayed or matted. If you can’t remember the last time you opened a new toothbrush or if your bristles are looking rough, it’s time to replace your toothbrush. The safest and most comfortable choice for older adults is a soft-bristled toothbrush. Medium and hard-bristled toothbrushes can damage the gums, root surface, and protective tooth enamel, especially if you vigorously brush your teeth. Manual or electric toothbrushes are both excellent choices for older adults. Ask your dentist what they recommend if you wish to try something new.
Brush Two Times a Day
The ADA recommends that everyone brush their teeth twice a day, including older adults. They also recommend using fluoride toothpaste, as tooth decay can develop at any age. It’s important to brush before you go to bed; otherwise, you give food and plaque more time to attack tooth enamel. If you eat a lot of sugar, you may need to brush more frequently to wash away the bacteria that produce acid. When you brush your teeth, don’t rush the process. Spend two minutes gently moving the brush around your teeth, trying to reach all quadrants. Use gentle pressure; there’s really no need to apply too much pressure.
Floss Between Teeth Once a Day
The ADA also recommends that everyone flosses between their teeth at least once a day. It is nearly impossible to reach every angle of your tooth with a toothbrush alone. Flossing helps remove food and plaque that can get stuck between teeth. If you struggle with dexterity while using traditional floss string, try a dental floss pick. Talk with your dentist about using an electric water flosser, another great alternative to traditional floss string.
Drink Plenty of Water
One of the lesser-known dental care tips is to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Many older adults suffer from dry mouth. This condition is often a side effect of certain medications but can also happen in advanced age. A dry mouth is uncomfortable and can cause tooth decay. Salvia helps neutralize acids produced by bacteria. When you don’t produce enough salvia, those acids stick around and lead to enamel erosion. Ward off dry mouth by staying hydrated. Drink water with each meal and sip on water throughout the day to keep your mouth moistened.
If your dental care needs a refresher, know that Visiting Angels Jenkintown is here for you. Our compassionate caregivers can provide tips and reminders to help you brush up on your dental hygiene. We offer a comprehensive approach to senior home care, including personal care, light housekeeping, meal planning and preparation, companionship, and more. We work with you to determine your care needs, then create a customized care plan that fits your routine and schedule. To learn more or to schedule your free consultation today, please contact us by calling 215-938-7201.