Smile Beautiful Dentistry Karessa Kuntz
Smile Beautiful Dentistry Monroeville

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Dental Hygiene and Seniors

Dental Hygiene and Seniors


Question: As a senior citizen how do I maintain a healthy smile?

A healthy smile is a bonus at any age. Too often older people-- especially those who wear false teeth (or dentures)--feel they no longer need dental check-ups. If you haven't learned what the basics of oral hygiene are, it is not too late to start. And even if you have, it's a good time to review.

Dental care for seniors involves unique considerations. Seniors are more likely to suffer from a host of oral health issues resulting from the natural aging process, their inability to receive proper oral health care due to financial constraints (no dental insurance) or their inability to provide adequate dental hygiene care for themselves.


Tooth Loss, Periodontal Disease and Other Dental Concerns for Seniors

Prior to tooth loss, seniors may experience tooth sensitivity or discoloration due to a loss of enamel and dentin or root deterioration caused by gum recession. Seniors are more prone to periodontal disease (gum disease) resulting from improper dental hygiene practices, poor diet, ill-fitting dental appliances and/or diseases such as cancer or diabetes. In fact, the supporting bone structure for the teeth, including the jaw, may shift, which can play havoc on a senior's bite. Seniors are also more likely to suffer from inflammation of gum tissue, dry mouth syndrome (often caused by medications) or oral thrush (a fungal disease causing ulcers and whitish spots on membranes of the mouth due to its effect on the immune system).


Dental Hygiene for Seniors

  • Brush, floss and rinse with mouthwash properly to maintain dental hygiene.
  • Look into special toothbrushes to clean hard-to-reach areas of the mouth.
  • Know the warning signs that indicate your mouth, teeth or gums may be in jeopardy, including tooth sensitivity, teeth grinding, pain, mouth sores, swelling, loose teeth, jaw popping or clicking, difficulty quenching thirst, swallowing or chewing.
  • Maintain dental appliances such as dentures and dental bridges properly.
  • Consider seeing your dentist before and after surgery.
  • Tell your dentist about any medications that you are taking or changes to medication.
  • If brushing and flossing are difficult for you, try to elongate the toothbrush with tongue depressors or ask for assistance. You may also try using a soft washcloth or gauze to remove debris from the teeth. People suffering from arthritis or a medical condition that limits manual dexterity can try inserting the back end of a toothbrush into a standard tennis ball for better maneuverability.

Provided as an educational service by Consumers Guide to Dentistry


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