Updated June 2021
As you age, your entire body changes—yes, even your teeth and gums! And it should come as no surprise that your risk of dental problems tends to be higher when you’re a senior. But there are steps you can take to reduce the odds that you’ll develop major issues. Below are a few of the things you should know to help ensure those pearly whites will continue looking beautiful for years to come.
Dental problems can develop at any age, but seniors should realize that they’re more susceptible. According to the CDC, untreated decay, gum disease, and tooth loss are all common problems among seniors. And many people who are 65 years of age and older don’t have any of their natural teeth left!
As a senior, things to look out for include wear and tear on the teeth, erosion of the enamel, cavities, and gum disease that might result in tooth loss if it isn’t treated properly and promptly. Trips to the dentist can help you catch problems in their earliest stages so you can preserve the health of your teeth and gums as best as possible.
Other oral health problems that might arise when you’re older include:
As a senior, it’s super important to be aware of the connection between oral health problems and other health issues, such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Because of these links, taking care of your teeth and gums is a smart step toward taking care of the rest of your body, and vice versa.
It’s also worth noting that certain medications for chronic conditions might cause side effects that impact your mouth. For example, if you’re taking a medicine that causes dry mouth as a side effect, it might raise your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
And let’s not forget that seniors should keep an eye out for symptoms of oral cancer because the risk of this disease is also higher when you’re older. Eating right and following a healthy lifestyle are a couple of strategies that may help reduce your risk, but it’s still important to see a dentist regularly for checkups that can catch the early signs that something’s wrong.
Knowing that you’re at a greater risk of developing oral problems as a senior is the first step. Taking action to keep your whole mouth as healthy and strong as possible is the next step.
At home, be sure to brush daily with a toothbrush that’s comfortable to use. Rinsing with a mouthwash can also be helpful when you want to clean areas that you might’ve missed while brushing and flossing.
See your dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings. Discuss any symptoms you’re experiencing, from sensitivity and swelling to dry mouth and sores.
If you have a dental bridge or you wear dentures, talk to your dentist about the best ways to keep them clean. And if they don’t fit comfortably, your dentist can adjust them for you, so don’t be afraid to speak up if you experience discomfort.
Finally, don’t forget to let your dentist know about any medications you’re taking and any medical conditions you’ve been diagnosed with. That way, he or she can keep that information in mind when examining your mouth and recommending treatments.
As you can see, seniors have a lot to think about when it comes to their oral health and hygiene, from taking the right steps to prevent problems, to having access to a qualified dentist who can provide prompt treatments. But on top of all of that, there’s also the issue of affording professional care.
The costs associated with keeping your mouth clean and healthy can certainly add up at any age, but the older you get and the more problems you encounter, the more expensive your dental care may become. Therefore, it’s wise to look into the dental insurance plans that are available for seniors. You might be surprised by how much coverage you can get at a budget-friendly price!