Oral health is important for everyone, no matter what your age. From the moment you’re born, your parents are looking after your mouth by gently rubbing your gums after feedings. When you’re old enough, you brush your own teeth, gradually learning about flossing, mouthwash and other things you can do to protect your mouth. But as you get older still, you might start to see issues cropping up. Things like lost teeth, denture care, discolouration and even periodontal disease become more common as you get older. So to keep your mouth healthy, you need to learn to adapt your routine to protect against these new issues. Today, we wanted to share with you some of the things to look out for, how to address them and how to prevent them in future.
Dry Mouth – Did you know that your body produces around a litre and a half of saliva every single day? It’s designed to break down food, wash away bacteria, prevent tooth decay, prevent bad breath and keep your mouth lubricated for speech. But if you’re not producing the right amount of saliva, you can end up with a dry mouth that can feel uncomfortable. Dry mouth (also known as xerostomia) is a common issue for seniors, and is usually caused by medication. Around 90% of people over 65 take at least one kind of medication, and dry mouth is usually listed as a common symptom. There are some easy remedies for dry mouth, so all you need to do is see your dentist.
Bad Breath – No one likes the idea of having bad breath, but it happens to all of us sometimes. Sadly, it’s much more common among the elderly. The thing to realise is that bad breath isn’t a symptom that stands on its own – it’s a sign of something else. There’s almost always an underlying cause to bad breath in seniors, usually dry mouth, poor oral hygiene or periodontal disease, which if addressed will make the bad breath go away. Make sure you brush regularly and see your dentist twice a year to avoid bad breath. If you find you have bad breath you can’t shift, go and see your dentist.
Tooth Loss – Tooth loss is one of the most common problems among seniors. On average, patients over 65 have only 18.9 teeth remaining, with 27% of seniors having no natural teeth left at all. The main causes of tooth loss in this age group come down to 2 things: smoking and poor oral hygiene. While we can’t do anything about your smoking habits, we can encourage you to keep up with your regular dentist appointments if you want to keep your natural teeth. Regular visits will help identify problems before they happen, and your dentist can explore options that will preserve your ability to eat, talk and smile comfortably for years to come.
Cavities – Cavities can affect anyone of any age, but they are more common the longer you’ve been around. Over time, it’s easier for cavities to develop in your teeth, which puts seniors at higher risk. Eating foods that are high in sugar will dramatically increase your chances of getting cavities, so avoiding sugary foods and drinks will help keep them at bay. You can also prevent cavities by brushing your teeth and flossing daily, and using an antiseptic mouthwash to remove bacteria from your mouth.
Denture Care – This one is is to do with the previous 2 paragraphs. Some people who fall victim to cavities will experience tooth loss, and if you lose a lot of teeth, you may be advised to have dentures fitted. The problem here is that a lot of people think dentures aren’t as delicate as normal teeth, so they don’t need as much maintenance. In reality, dentures require just as much care and attention as regular teeth, and you need to brush them regularly to avoid damage and discolouration. Dentures are also vulnerable to plaque build up, which can easily transfer onto your natural teeth and cause gum disease. So, make sure you take care of those dentures!
At Appledore, we’re always happy to offer advice and suggestions to help you keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy at every stage of your life. Our expert dentists and hygienists are on hand to give you a check-up, answer any questions you might have and give suggestion to help avoid these problems. If you would like to find out more, just book your smile consultation with us today.