Oral health care during the golden years

Many years ago, tooth loss was considered a regular part of growing older. Thanks to modern dentistry and increased awareness about the importance of oral hygiene it is now possible for a person to keep all their adult teeth for the entirety of their lives.

Of course, as we age our medical, as well as dental needs, will change. If you are over age 55 or a caregiver to an ageing adult, you will need to take special care to maintain good oral health in the senior years.

One of the leading causes of tooth loss in seniors is gum disease. It is therefore imperative that you prevent and treat gum disease. The best way to do this is to brush regularly and maintain visits with your family dentist twice a year. These bi-yearly exams and cleanings will not only serve to give your teeth a good polishing; they will provide an opportunity for your dentist to catch gingivitis or gum disease in its early stages, before its given a chance to progress. Your dentist will also screen you for oral cancer at each visit.

As we age, challenges with memory can often begin to occur. This can lead to a person forgetting to brush and floss regularly. Setting up reminders on your phone or post-it notes around the house can help you remember to clean. If you are caring for a senior, who has difficulty with the motor control you may need to help them brush. If you or a loved one is in a residential care facility, ask staff about support services available to help residents with oral care.

Certain medications can cause dry mouth, which can increase the chance of developing cavities. If you or someone you care for is suffering from dry mouth, speak to a doctor about the possibility of switching medications. Medical conditions such as diabetes may also increase a person’s risk of developing gum disease. It’s important to communicate with your family dentist regarding drugs and medical issues.

If you have questions about maintaining oral into your senior years (or supporting aging loved one), feel free to ask our Edmonton family dentist about tips to help keep good oral health well into your golden years.