Oral Health for Seniors
|April 2008||Text by : Dr. Sameer Aryal
Maintaining a good oral hygiene is a must for all ages. Seniors have few issues that, if they knew about, would help them achieve better hygiene. Here are few:
How do I maintain good oral health in my senior years?
Your teeth can last a lifetime with proper home care and regular dental checkups. No matter what your age, you can keep your teeth and gums healthy by brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily and seeing your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups.
What special oral health issues should I know about as a senior?
Even if you brush and floss regularly, you may face certain dental issues in your
senior years. Wearing dentures, taking medications and general health conditions are some of them. Luckily, your dentist and physician can help you meet most of these challenges quite successfully.
Cavities and decay on the root surfaces of the teeth are more
common in older adults. So it’s important to brush with a fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and see your dentist regularly.
Sensitivity can be an increasing problem as one ages. Your gums naturally recede over time, exposing areas of the tooth that are not protected by enamel. These areas are particularly prone to pain due to cold or hot foods or beverages. In severe cases cold air, as well as sensitivity to sour and sweet drinks and foods, can occur. If you experience sensitivity, try an anti- sensitivity toothpaste. If the problem persists, see your dentist, as the sensitivity may be an indication of a more serious condition, such as a cavity or a cracked or fractured tooth.
Dry mouth is a common condition in seniors, and one that may be caused by medications or certain medical disorders. Left untreated, dry mouth can damage your teeth. Your dentist can recommend various methods to restore moisture in your mouth, as well as appropriate treatments or medications to help prevent the
problems associated with dry mouth.
Existing health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer can affect your oral health. Be sure to let your dentist know of any general health issues you’re facing, so that he or she understands the whole situation and can help you meet your special requirements.
Dentures can make life easier for many seniors, but they require special care. Follow your dentist’s instructions carefully and see your dentist if any problems arise. An annual checkup is recommended for long-term denture wearers.
Gum disease is a potentially serious condition that can affect people of all ages, especially over 40. A number of factors can increase the severity of gum disease, including bad diet, poor oral hygiene, systemic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, cancer), environmental factors (stress, smoking), certain medications.
Because the earliest stages of gum disease are reversible, it is important to spot them early through regular checkups and treatment. It is easy to prevent gum
disease by practicing proper oral hygiene.
Crowns and bridges are used to strengthen damaged teeth or replace missing ones. A crown is used to entirely cover or ‘cap’ a damaged tooth. A crown can also be used to improve tooth appearance, shape or alignment. Bridges are commonly used to replace one or more missing teeth. They span the space where the teeth are missing. Bridges are cemented to the natural teeth or implants surrounding the empty space.
It’s always best to know what you should look for. With this information you know what you can do and what kind of help is possible from a dentist. Always remember: your teeth can last you a lifetime if you maintain your oral hygiene.
Advanced Dental Care
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