Take Care of Your Teeth: Oral Health for Older Adults

Healthy teeth and gums are not just crucial to your appearance. Oral hygiene is critical to overall health and wellness—especially for older adults! Good dental health for older adults can prevent severe oral health conditions and improve overall quality of life. This article will discuss everything you need to know to improve your oral health and keep your teeth and gums healthy for years.

Aging and Dental Health

Many things change as we age, including our teeth and gums. Being aware of the changes in our teeth and the increased risk for problems is the first in taking oral health seriously.

As we age, we lose tooth enamel, experience a decrease in saliva, and our gums start to thin and recede. Many seniors begin to experience dry mouth due to medical conditions or medications. In addition, after retirement, many Americans lose their dental care (Medicare does not cover routine dental care), which can lead to fewer dental visits.

Oral Health Risks for Seniors

Oral health can be directly linked to physical health and quality of life. Committing to prioritizing your oral health is critical.  Don’t procrastinate when you notice changes in your mouth. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, heart disease, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pay close attention to dental changes. Seeing a dentist when you notice problems will prevent serious medical issues and save you money.

Poor dental health can put you at risk for the following oral health problems:

  • Periodontal or gum disease
  • Oral cancer
  • Tooth loss
  • Tooth decay
  • Dry mouth
  • Thrush
  • A diminished sense of taste
  • Uneven jawbone

Monitor your mouth and speak with your dentist if you notice any of the following changes:

  • Bad breath
  • Swelling in your jaw
  • Tender or swollen gums
  • Sensitive or loose teeth
  • Painful, bleeding, or receding gums
  • Trouble chewing or swallowing

Dental Care Tips for Older Adults

Taking care of your teeth as you age can prevent problems such as gum disease, cavities, and tooth loss. Healthy teeth and gums make it easier to eat comfortably, enjoy food and improve your confidence!

Follow the steps below to improve and maintain good dental health:

  • Invest in an electric toothbrush
  • Follow a healthy diet and limit sugary foods and drinks
  • Brush and floss your teeth daily
  • Use fluoride toothpaste to protect your teeth from decay
  • Eliminate smoking and tobacco products
  • Rinse with an antiseptic or antibacterial mouthwash daily
  • Take special care of your dentures
  • See your dentist at least once a year

Taking care of your teeth and gums will help you enjoy improved health as you age. If you don’t have dental insurance and are concerned about costs, reach out to dental schools in your area, your local United Way, or for resources in your area.