Maintaining positive oral health is important during all stages throughout our human development but it can be especially vital during specific periods. One of those periods is during our seniors years. This is partially because oral health is often one of the hygienic tasks we begin to let slide, especially as we get older. This can be because we forget that oral health is related to whole-body health! This is why it can be especially important for seniors.
There are certain circumstances that can make it more difficult for seniors to maintain their oral health, such as arthritis in the hands and fingers. This can make brushing or flossing teeth difficult to impossible to do. Drugs and medication also affect oral health.
Senior health problems can be fairly common, spanning from issues like dry mouth to periodontal disease. Since oral healthy can directly effect the rest of the body health, these issues should be addressed as soon as possible and taken seriously. Making an effort to take care of senior teeth and gum health is equally important as monitoring digestive, heart, or lung health.
For you seniors looking to keep that oral health optimal, here are a few tips we've collected that go a long way for helping sustain healthy teeth, gums, and mouth health.
1. Brush Your Teeth Twice A Day With Soft Bristles & Quality Toothpaste
It may seem obvious but being sure that you brush your teeth once in the morning and once in the evening is the base-line act for supporting your oral and dental health. Whether you're a grandma or a grand-kid, brushing is a must, especially since the risk for cavities rises as you get older. If you use dentures, be sure to gently brush the gums on the sides and roof of your mouth. This can go a long way in reducing irritation and inflammation and preventing tartar build-up.
2. Use The Right Toothbrush
Be good to your teeth and gums - use the right toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes are effective and safe for all ages and if you get a hands-free electric brush, it can be all the more easy to use and convenient when struggling with mobility or arthritis. Be sure to switch out your brush heads every 3 to 4 months. Even if you don't go electric an all-natural, soft-bristled toothbrush is the best way to go. This will still do the job when it comes to removing stain-causing agents from your teeth and gums.
3. Clean Between Your Teeth Once A Day
Whether your use floss or a water flossing device, be sure to incorporate it once-daily into your routine. Flossing removes food and bacteria from between the teeth which helps prevent infections, tooth decay, and gum disease all which can lead to more serious health problems if left unaddressed.
4. Clean Dentures Daily
Bacteria can easily stick to your partial or full dentures so it's important to clean them daily with cleaning agents designed specifically for dentures. Do not use toothpaste for natural teeth to clean your dentures or any other household cleaners as they are too coarse and damage your dentures. Your dentist will likely specify how long you should wear your dentures daily but it is recommended to remove them for at least four hours every 24 hours to keep the lining of your mouth healthy. Another best practice is to remove your full or partial dentures at night.
5. Be Observant Of Changes In Your Mouth
Another reason it's important to be brushing your teeth twice a day is because it helps you notice if anything seems off in and around your mouth. Being aware of the familiar verses unfamiliar tastes and consistencies of your tongue, teeth, gums, and saliva can be very helpful. The risk of contracting oral cancer increases as we get older so if you notice any changes in your mouth, it's best to get them checked out.
- A spot or lump in your mouth, lip, or throat area that feels uncomfortable or sore.
- White or red patches on the tongue or in your mouth
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing or moving the jaw or tongue
- Swelling in the jaw
- Pain in one ear without hearing loss
- Numbness in the tongue or mouth
6. Eat Nutritious Foods
Brushing and flossing do a lot for maintaining and supporting your oral hygiene but other factors can also majorly impact it as well. Suitable nutrition is one of those main factors. Providing yourself with a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins can supply nutrients needed for positive oral health.
Of course calcium-rich foods like almonds and salmon are best for your teeth as they benefit your bones. Try swapping out sugary treats for more foods that feature helpful vitamins and minerals and you will definitely see a difference in both your oral and overall health.
7. Quit Smoking & Limit Alcohol Ingestion
We all know by now that smoking is pretty awful for us, and not just for our lungs and internal organs but also for our teeth and mouth health. It's been proven smokers are seven times more likely to develop periodontal disease than non-smokers among other health risks.
The same goes for alcohol, alcohol drinkers are six times more likely to contract oral cancers than non-drinkers. Alcohol is loaded up with sugar so drinking it in excess can cause damage to your teeth and lead to cavities more quickly. Cutting back on both of these or quitting them altogether can greatly benefit both your oral and bodily health.
8. See Your Dentist Regularly
Being proactive about your dental health includes consulting your dentist regularly, or at least once a year. Professional dental cleanings make up for what brushing, rinsing and flossing miss. It also helps you identify issues early on that could potentially lead to pain or illness.