Senior Dental Care: What You Should Know



Senior Dental Care: What You Should Know

By: Spirit Dental
February 8, 2018


Senior woman in dental chair smiling


Like other aspects of our health, our teeth and gums become increasingly vulnerable to a range of conditions as we get older. But all hope is certainly not lost. Simply being aware of the risks, and taking the appropriate steps to minimize those risks, could help you maintain that gorgeous smile long into your golden years.

Yikes! These Conditions Could Become More Common with Age

Certain oral health issues can affect youngsters, seniors, and everyone in between. But there are a few problems that tend to become more common as you age:

  • Cavities - It turns out that cavities might occur more frequently as you get older. And did you know that if your teeth weren’t exposed to enough fluoride when you were young, you might notice more problems in your senior years? Who knew?! On top of that, if you had to get fillings in the past, they might be old and prone to decay as well.
  • Gum Disease - If you have sensitive, bleeding, or irritated gums, you might be dealing with gum disease, which is also known as periodontal disease. It’s important to talk to your dentist about treatments, as this condition has the potential to make other problems, such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease, worse if it’s left untreated.  
  • Receding Gums - Seniors also tend to have receding gums that could leave tooth roots exposed, increasing the risk of decay. Basically, the gum tissue pulls back from a tooth, exposing more of that tooth and causing symptoms like sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages. Your dentist might be able to help by covering the roots with a soft tissue graft, or you might just need your dentist to bond or seal any exposed roots.
  • Darker Teeth - Even if you’ve worked hard to keep your teeth as white as possible through the years, you might notice that your teeth start to look darker as you get older. This could be normal, as it may be the result of your enamel wearing away, exposing the yellow dentin beneath, or it could be from consuming foods and drinks that stain teeth.  
  • Loose Teeth - Feeling as though your teeth are looser than normal is definitely scary, but this could happen for a few different reasons as you get older. For example, conditions like diabetes could be to blame, or there might be a problem with your bite. You may even have a bad habit of clenching your teeth. No matter what, talk to your dentist, who might refer you to a periodontist to help you resolve this problem.
  • Thrush - Caused by an overgrowth of a yeast known as Candida albicans, thrush could be the result of a weaker immune system in seniors. But certain medications might also be to blame. If you have symptoms of thrush, which include white blotches in your mouth, it’s best to get it treated by your dentist right away before it gets worse.  
  • Dry Mouth - When your mouth fails to produce enough saliva, uncomfortable dry mouth could occur, and that might leave you more vulnerable to infections, tooth decay, bad breath, and gum disease. Dry mouth could be part of the side effects of certain prescriptions, but there are also diseases that could cause it, so talk to your dentist if you are exhibiting symptoms.
  • Denture Problems - If you’re like so many other seniors who wear dentures, ensuring that they’re properly fitted could make a world of difference. If your dentures don’t fit right, and if you aren’t thoroughly cleaning them, your risk of tissue inflammation and discomfort might increase. And a condition known as denture-related stomatitis may also occur. So consider having your dentures adjusted or replaced if they aren’t fitting comfortably.

Here’s What Seniors Can Do to Maintain a Healthy Mouth

Taking your oral hygiene routine up a notch might be just what you need to prevent oral health problems like those discussed above. So consider switching to a fluoride-containing toothpaste if you aren’t already using one. You could even add an antibacterial mouthwash to the mix for extra protection. And don’t forget to floss!

Leading a healthy lifestyle could also play a role in your oral health, as it might help reduce the risk of developing conditions that may then lead to tooth and gum ailments. So if you smoke, it’s best to quit. And if you aren’t following a nutritious diet and making it a point to stay hydrated throughout the day, there’s no better time to start than right now.

It’s More Important Than Ever to See Your Dentist!

Regardless of how old you are, seeing your dentist once or twice a year for a thorough checkup of your entire mouth is a great idea. And getting your teeth cleaned regularly could also help keep your teeth and gums strong and healthy.

With a Spirit Dental plan, you can get three cleanings per year, as well as gain access to valuable coverage for major services like bridges, dentures, and implants. Because the risk of dental problems could increase with age, the simple act of signing up for the right insurance could give you peace of mind and the care that you need, without having to worry about affording treatments if you’re on a budget.

Hey, we know that aging isn’t always all that fun, but when it comes to senior dental care, there are a few things that you should know, so it’s best to be informed rather than ignore the facts. With the help of your dentist and your dental hygienist, and with a solid at-home oral hygiene routine, you can rest assured that your mouth will remain clean, your gums will stay strong, and your teeth will be as bright as ever.

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