Your teeth have been with you since you were just a child. As you get older, things change, and that may include new concerns about your oral health. Here are some tips on caring for your teeth and gums as you age.
Keep your Teeth!
Decades ago, it was common to know older people who had few of their own teeth left. This doesn’t have to be the case. With proper cleaning and dental care, your teeth can last you a lifetime. The main cause of tooth loss in older people is gum disease. Certain health conditions, such as osteoporosis, can make you more likely to lose a tooth. But if you keep your teeth and gums clean, preventing gingivitis and gum disease, you are much more likely to keep your own, healthy teeth.
I Can’t Reach, or I Can’t Remember
Getting older makes everything more difficult, it’s true. Losing mobility in the upper body and hands can make brushing and flossing more difficult and mental health issues can make remembering even daily tasks like brushing your teeth hard to remember.
To help with cleaning the teeth, try a power toothbrush. You can buy kinds that charge on a base plugged into the wall so you won’t be always running out of batteries. They have smaller heads that fit easier than manual toothbrushes, and you don’t need to scrub back and forth. For flossing, try using Y-shaped floss holders. They’re easier on your fingers and increase maneuverability. If forgetting is the problem, try simple solutions first, such as leaving the toothpaste out on the counter until after you’ve brushed to remind yourself. You can leave sticky notes or set an alarm on your phone. If it is very hard to remember, ask a friend or family member to remind you every day.
Oral cancer is most common in older patients. Keep up with regular dental checkups, because your dentist is your first line of defense for thoroughly checking your mouth for any signs of trouble. Also make an appointment right away if you notice an unusual red or white patch inside your mouth, or a sore that won’t heal.
My Mouth is So Dry
This can happen as you get older and salivary glands cease to function as well. It can also be a reaction to certain medications, radiation therapy or, in rare cases, a sign of disease. In many cases, however, dry mouth is just one of those many annoying things your body does as you age. Drink plenty of water and refrain from smoking or using too much alcohol or caffeine. Your dentist can prescribe special mouthwash for you if your dry mouth makes you uncomfortable.
Don’t give up on taking care of your oral health just because you’re getting older. Taking the time for daily cleaning as well as regular checkups will keep your mouth comfortable and your health in great shape. Now there’s one less thing to worry about!