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A Senior's Guide To Lasting Oral Wellness

Written By: William Rivers
Reviewed By: William Rivers
Published: September 8, 2023
Last updated: December 29, 2023

Your oral health evolves with your body throughout life. Years provide wisdom, but they also create distinct oral health challenges. As you age, your teeth and gums change naturally, making oral health more critical for seniors. 

Dry mouth, receding gums, and structural changes in the jaw can increase the risk of oral health issues. Understanding these changes can prevent such problems and take preventive measures. Oral wellness is about overall well-being, not just having a beautiful smile. 

Seniors had many dental milestones—from their first tooth to their wisdom tooth removal. Experience has taught them that taking care of their teeth is vital. After cavities, fillings, dental implants, and possibly orthodontics, seniors understand preventive care. 

Life lessons can help seniors prevent dental health complications. Hence, treating dental care mistakes as valuable learning experiences is essential, just like any other mistake. With this principle, seniors can inspire future generations. They can demonstrate that enhancing oral health is always possible. 

Here are some ways for seniors to maintain lasting oral wellness:

  1. Good Oral Hygiene Practices

Practicing good oral hygiene can prevent dental problems and maintain long-term oral health. Seniors should brush their teeth twice a day using a toothbrush with soft bristles and toothpaste that contains fluoride. This way, they can eliminate plaque and food particles that can cause tooth decay and gum disease. 

Flossing is also essential because it cleans between the teeth and along the gumline, areas that a toothbrush may not be able to reach. If seniors floss their teeth every day, plaque and tartar won’t build up in places that are hard to reach. 

  1. Regular Dental Checkups

Regular dental checkups can keep your oral health in good condition. Seniors can schedule dental appointments for professional cleanings and examinations at least twice a year. These visits enable dentists to detect any potential problems and offer suitable treatments. They can also conduct screenings for oral cancer and evaluate the mouth’s overall health.

During these check-ups, seniors can talk about any concerns, like experiencing dry mouth, issues with denture fit, or sensitivity in their gums. Dentists can offer personalized advice and recommendations based on their oral health needs. Seniors can also take the opportunity to get necessary dental work done, such as adjusting dentures.

  1. Proper Denture Care

Proper care is essential for seniors wearing dentures to maintain oral wellness. Seniors can keep their dentures clean by brushing them. They can remove their dentures at night to reduce the risk of fungal infections. Regular checkups with a dentist ensure dentures fit well and are comfortable to wear. 

Ill-fitting dentures can cause sore spots, make eating challenging, and may lead to bone loss over time. Dentists can help make necessary adjustments to dentures and offer guidance on maintaining good denture hygiene.

  1. Hydration And Diet

Older adults often experience dry mouth, increasing the chances of developing tooth decay and gum disease. Staying hydrated helps maintain good oral health. In addition, it helps to be mindful of their intake of sweet and acidic beverages, as these can damage tooth enamel.

Oral wellness requires a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals. An adequate calcium and vitamin D intake can help maintain strong teeth and bones. Seniors can get them by consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products. 

  1. Medication And Oral Health

Some medications might cause dry mouth, reducing saliva production and increasing dental problems. Seniors must let their dentist know about all the medications they take. This way, their dentist can make appropriate recommendations.

If you experience dry mouth, using saliva substitutes or mouth rinses prescribed by a dentist can help relieve discomfort and protect your oral tissues. In addition, drinking water or rinsing your mouth after taking medications can help reduce their oral health effects.

Medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease can affect oral health; oral health can also impact these conditions. Regular check-ups, taking medication, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help improve oral health for individuals with chronic health issues.

Using oral care products specifically designed for seniors can benefit them. For instance, a toothbrush with a larger handle can make brushing easier for seniors with motor skills problems.

  1. Lifestyle Choices

Preventing oral cancer, gum disease, and tooth decay requires avoiding tobacco products like cigarettes. Smoking can impede the body’s healing process following dental procedures. Meanwhile, did you know that drinking too much alcohol can cause dry mouth, gum disease, and oral cancer? Reducing alcohol consumption is good for oral health. 

On the other hand, engaging in regular physical activity can have positive effects on your oral health. Exercise enhances blood circulation, which is necessary for getting nutrients and eliminating waste. Regular physical activity can help seniors keep their gums healthy and maintain their overall well-being.

Conclusion

These tips can help seniors keep their oral health in excellent condition. They can manage oral health issues as they age because of their wealth of experience and flexibility. Seniors can show their smiles reflecting their lifetime of learning, growth, and self-discovery by accepting change, learning from past experiences, and emphasizing self-care. 

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William Rivers is an editor with a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling at Maine State University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the senior healthcare industry.
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