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Dental Health Tips for Seniors

Mature woman with a beautiful smile
Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

With the advance of healthy lifestyles, and access to professional dental care, we can expect to keep most if not all our natural teeth into our senior years. But keeping those pearly whites healthy can be a challenge and requires more than home oral hygiene. Regular visits to a dental hygienist will help prevent more serious problems later and together you'll be able plan an effective daily routine for lifelong healthy teeth. It's important for seniors to keep their dental health in check. Poor oral hygiene can lead to a number of health problems, so in this article, we'll discuss some tips for keeping your teeth healthy as you age.

Senior couple with radiant smiles
Senior couple with radiant smiles
Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

Dental problems seniors may encounter include:

Problem: Darker or yellow teeth.

Solution: The natural colour of your teeth can change with age. Also, plaque builds up over time as we age and can accumulate stains as we consume staining foods and beverages. Tooth whitening can be done at any age with the help of several products readily available in local pharmacies. Try whitening toothpaste to remove the proteins that lodge into enamel causing yellowing teeth. Look for a low-concentration of bleach in the toothpaste, or try bleaching trays with hydrogen peroxide as prescribed by your dentist. The trays oral professionals provide are customized to fit your teeth precisely and the cleaning agent they prescribe will be safe for your teeth and gums.

Problem: Sensitive teeth.

Solution: Are your teeth temperature sensitive? This can happen to anyone, at any age, but especially with seniors as the gum tissue regresses, uncovering small areas of the root. Try a fluoride mouth rinse, or switch to a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. Make sure to let your dental hygienist know about any tooth sensitivities you have, especially when pain is taking the enjoyment out of eating meals. In advanced cases, a dentist may seal or recommend a soft tissue graft to cover exposed roots.

Portrait of a smiling senior woman
Portrait of a smiling senior woman
Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK

Problem: Dry mouth.

Solution: Dry mouth is an important issue to address because it can put you at greater risk for oral infections, cavities, and lead to difficulty swallowing. Oral infections, in turn, when left unchecked can lead to other health problems like heart disease because bacteria can enter the bloodstream and affect the valves. Dry mouth is most commonly caused by medications, but can also be caused by dehydration, smoking and alcohol use. Stay hydrated, and cut back on, or stop smoking and drinking alcohol if this problem is getting worse for you. Try using lip lubricants and avoid food and beverages that cause dry mouth, including caffeine or spicy, acidic foods. Staying hydrated daily by sipping clean room temperature water is the best tip for fighting dry mouth.

Anyone can maintain dental health at any age by making regular appointments with a dentist. Ask your dental hygienist about preventive oral care and the ways to reduce the problems you may be having with your teeth and gums. Together, you can plan a customized daily oral care routine to keep your smile bright and healthy.

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