Understanding Dental Care Changes As You Age

If you have ever had a toothache, you know how difficult it can be to engage in any activity. That's because your oral health affects your overall well-being. A study in the online issue of Neurology reveals that gum disease and tooth loss may affect the part of the brain that controls thinking and memory. These findings give people more reason to take better care of their gums and teeth as they age. However, once you're older, aging will put you at a high risk of dental problems anyway. With that in mind, how can you handle dental health changes that come with old age and save on senior dental care? In this article, we'll discuss how you can keep your teeth and gums healthy, dental issues to watch out for, and what to expect during dental checkups as you age. 

Oral Health Tips For Older Adults

It's easy to bite and chew food with a complete set of healthy teeth. Unfortunately, as you grow older, health conditions like diabetes and heart problems or the medications prescribed by your doctor can cause tooth rot. It is, therefore, crucial to consider these conditions when caring for your teeth and gums as you age. Remember,  essential oral hygiene tips for seniors are the same as for any child and adult. This includes brushing your teeth twice daily using fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and scheduling a dental checkup once or twice a year. However, there are other dental practices you must follow as you age to maintain healthy teeth and gums. As a rule of thumb, you should eat foods that keep teeth and gums healthy and reduce sugar intake. Healthy foods for good oral health are vegetables, beef, salmon, nuts, yogurt, sweet potato, and fermented foods like kimchi. Remember, alcohol and tobacco products like e-cigarettes and cigarettes with nicotine increase the risk of gum disease and oral cancer. So, avoid smoking or chewing tobacco and drink alcohol moderately. 

Common Dental Issues Senior Citizens Experience

Age increases your risk of dealing with a variety of oral problems. Note that age isn't the only reason you'll experience dental health problems as you age. Health conditions like dementia and hand arthritis prevent seniors from maintaining dental hygiene. The prescribed medicine you might be taking can affect your gums and teeth, forcing you to undergo treatment to improve your oral health. Common dental issues in seniors you should be worried about include dry mouth, which could be a result of decreased saliva flow, a sign you have Sjogren's syndrome or side effects of medications. You could also experience tooth loss and root decay because of untreated gum disease. As you grow old, you'll also be susceptible to other oral problems like bone loss in the jaw, thrush, discolored teeth, and loss of taste. 

Expectations During Checkups

It's obvious you know the importance of annual dental checkups. But do you know what to expect when you visit your dentist? Next time you visit your dental clinic, your dentist should examine every part of your mouth. They should check your tongue and inner cheeks for infections, traumatic injuries, and ulcers. Your bite might seem insignificant when having a dental examination. But your dentist needs to check how your upper and lower jaw fit when you open and close your mouth. Another aspect seniors overlook during dental checkups is an inspection of dental appliances like retainers, braces, and dentures to see if they're damaged. If dental appliances are worn out, your dentist will replace them with new ones. They'll also examine your mouth to see if there's any irritation or sores where the device is placed. Understanding what to expect from your dentist is a sure way of staying on top of dental care as you age. 

Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is vital to preventing health issues like cognitive decline as you grow older. However, there's a significant change in dental care as you age for various reasons. For instance, underlying health conditions like heart disease and diabetes or taking multiple medications can cause teeth and gum problems. Fortunately, you can still keep your mouth healthy if you maintain oral hygiene, eat healthy foods, avoid tobacco, and go for annual checkups.