I wonder how many senior citizens included "keeping my teeth for a lifetime" on their list of New Year's resolutions this year. Surveys by the American Dental Association and Oral B® reveal that seven in ten respondents 65 years of age and older visit their dentist at least once a year, and almost all said they believe that healthy teeth and gums are important. It's great to know that seniors are concerned about their oral health, because dental needs change as we age. Our seniors need to be concerned with cavities, gum disease and the fit of their dentures.
Unfortunately, cavities are not just for kids. All throughout our lives, carbohydrate-containing foods team up with bacteria in the mouth to produce cavity-forming acids. Seniors often have receding gums that expose the sensitive roots of the teeth to cavities. These cavities should be filled as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the teeth. Seniors should try to brush teeth at least 2-3 times a day and floss once daily. I recommend Colgate® Total toothpaste and any mouth-rinse containing fluoride to reduce the risk of cavities.
Periodontal disease or gum disease is the main reason people lose their teeth. Gum disease is caused by plaque, a bacterial film that continuously forms around the teeth. Although gum disease is often painless until it is very advanced, some signs of gum disease include: bleeding gums after eating or brushing your teeth, persistent bad breath; swollen gums; loose teeth; a change in the fit of partial dentures; or permanent tooth loss. The effects of gum disease become cumulative as we age. Your dentist or hygienist can clean the plaque and tartar under the gumline to help reduce the damage of gum disease. As with cavity prevention, regular brushing, 2-3 times a day, flossing at least once a day, as well as dental cleanings and dental exams are recommended. Seniors with gum disease should see their dentist 3-4 times a year.
Seniors who have worn dentures for many years may find that they don't seem to fit as well anymore. This happens because the jawbone that is under the denture becomes worn away over time. Loose dentures make if difficult to eat and speak (they seem to make a "clacking" noise), and do not support the face as well. The loose denture begins to need more and more adhesive to stay in place. Your dentist can sometimes remedy the problem by relining the denture, but a new denture should be made every 5-7 years, or when the dentures cannot be used comfortably. In some cases, implants can be used to help secure the denture. This is usually most needed in the lower jaw and is sometimes the only way to help the patient stabilize and use their denture.
Remember, only a dentist can diagnose your dental problems and offer the right treatment plan for you. If you need a dentist, call us at 1-866-970-0441 to be connected with one today.