by Dr. Pooneh Ramezani, DDS
Dental hygiene is easily forgotten about as we age, especially when faced with physical and mental changes. However, taking care of your mouth is an important way to maintain oral and overall health. Here are the most common oral health conditions in people over the age of 60, plus daily dental care habits to help keep your smile shining bright.
Common Oral Care Problems in Aging AdultsDry Mouth. Also referred to as, Xerostomia, this condition can be caused by stress, aging, certain medications or medical problems. Without the cleansing effect of saliva, tooth decay and other oral health issues may occur.
Signs and Symptoms of Dry Mouth
- A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth or throat
- Persistent bad breath
- Chapped Lips
- Irritated gums
- Trouble chewing, swallowing or talking
How to Treat Dry Mouth
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated
- Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate salivary glands
- Use a moisturizing, alcohol-free mouthwash
- Reduce or limit caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea
Tooth Decay. Tooth decay is damage that occurs when harmful bacteria in the mouth produce acids that eat away at a tooth. Overtime this can create a hole in your tooth, called a cavity.
Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Decay
- Toothache or pain, especially when you bite or chew
- Teeth become sensitive
- There are visible holes or pits in your teeth
- Brown, black or white staining on the surface of your tooth
How to Prevent Tooth Decay
- Brush your teeth for two minutes twice each day
- Floss between your teeth at least once a day
- Use an alcohol-free mouthwash, or water to rinse after meals
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Visit the dentist every six months for professional cleanings and examinations
Gum Disease. Also known as Periodontal disease, occurs when the gum tissues surrounding teeth become infected because of a buildup of plaque on the teeth and gums. The first stage of gum disease, Gingivitis, is recognized by swollen, red or bleeding gums.
Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
How to Treat Gum Disease more Naturally
- Properly brush and gently floss everyday
- Use oral care products with vitamin C, which helps with healthy tissue formation
- Apply a tea tree oil spray with natural ingredients on to gums to reduce swelling and irritation
- Rinse with an aloe vera juice mouthwash, known for it's antibacterial properties
Oral Cancer. Oral cancer appears as a growth or sore in/around the mouth that doesn’t go away. This type of cancer can form in any area of the mouth including the lips, tongue and cheeks. Mouth cancer can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated early.
Signs and Symptoms of Mouth Cancer
- White or red patches in your mouth
- A mouth sore that won't heal
- Bleeding in your mouth
- Loose teeth
- Problems or pain with swallowing
- A lump in your neck
How to Keep Your Mouth Healthy During Treatment
- Visit the dentist before starting any kind of cancer treatments
- Brush with a soft bristle toothbrush 2-3 times a day
- Carefully floss your teeth everyday
- Keep hydrated by drinking lots of liquids
- Avoid commercial mouth rinses and use a natural alcohol-free alternative
Dental Health Tips for Seniors
- Practice good oral hygiene
- Use an electric toothbrush for proper technique
- Visit the dentist regularly
- Set reminders to brush, rinse and floss each day
- Clean your dentures everyday
- Drink water and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Take a seat when brushing and flossing your teeth
Easy Oral Care Products for the Elderly
Soothe & Restore
Dr. Brite's Soothe & Restore gum spray quickly alleviates painful, irritated or swollen gums and kills harmful bacteria.
Brite & Fresh
Dr. Brite's Brite & Fresh mouth spray instantly freshens bad breath and helps moisturize the mouth with just a few pumps!
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