Caring for your teeth isn't just about having a good smile. Your dental health can affect more than just your pearly whites, so it's especially important for seniors to take care of their teeth. Here are some dental hygiene tips to keep you smiling for years to come:
Clean dental implants
According to Seniors Oral Health, 75 percent of seniors who are 60 years old and above do not have their entire set of natural teeth. If you have dental implants, crowns, dentures or other artificial teeth, you are not alone! It's very important to take care of your latest smile accessories to ensure they last for a long time. Implants and dentures are made from different material than your teeth, so they may require more maintenance than your regular brushing.
Be sure to listen to your dentist when he or she explains proper care tips, like soaking dentures in cleaning solution overnight, or removing a retainer that has a false tooth attached before you eat. Also make sure to bring a carrying case with you so you don't accidentally toss them during lunch!
Talk to your doctor about prescriptions
Many seniors complain of dry mouth. This occurs when the saliva glands no longer produce ample amounts of spit to lubricate the mouth. Not only can this harm your teeth, it's bad for your digestion as well. You may be taking some medications that are prone to cause dry mouth, so talk to your doctor if you think you're experiencing this side effect.
Follow a regular routine
It's normal to forget to brush every once in a while because you're busy or too tired. However, if this becomes a habit you are neglecting your dental health and may be at risk for gum disease and tooth decay. Add tooth care to your morning and nightly routine so you remember to brush and floss. Doing the same thing every day will make you more likely to remember.
Use assistive tools
Arthritis is a major problem for many seniors. This painful chronic condition can make something as seemingly simple as flossing become an achy ordeal. Thankfully there are many dental tools to make your hygiene practices easier on your hands and wrists. Instead of rolling through a container of tooth floss, opt for tooth picks that have a toothbrush-like handle but feature a small wiry end for getting between teeth. Or, use a flosser that holds the string in place for you so you're not struggling with your fingers.
As for toothbrushes, opt for versions that have thicker, rubbery grips. This makes them easier to hold than the thin plastic varieties. Also look for toothbrushes with soft bristles so you don't damage your gums with too-harsh bristles. Some seniors find their teeth grow more and more sensitive to temperature as they age. If this sounds familiar, consider using toothpaste that is all-natural, or that is made for sensitive teeth.