Being a senior is fun and a blessing. You have had the chance to make great memories and now the only thing left is to enjoy your sunset years with the loved ones you’ve met along the way. Unfortunately, as with most good things, being a senior comes with its downsides too. For instance, you are likely to have more health concerns than you did in your earlier years. This is a natural part of the aging process. As far as health concerns go, it is not just the major organs that take a hit but the mouth too. As you grow older, you might suddenly find yourself with more cavities, signs of gum disease and other issues that did not seem to show up when you were in your middle age. Understanding the common oral health issues that seniors deal with is often the first step towards gaining control and remedying your own situation.
Teeth Loss – Most Common Oral Health Problem
It is common for seniors to be missing some or all of their teeth. Statistically speaking, most seniors over the age of 65 have only 18.9 teeth remaining. Further, a quarter of all seniors have lost all of their teeth. This is not good news for anyone who is looking to enjoy their favorite foods during their retirement. The good news is that you have it within you to not become a statistic. People lose their teeth if they haven’t been taking good care of the same. If you practice proper dental hygiene everyday of your life, chances are high that you’ll make it to your senior years with an almost complete set of teeth. If you already are missing some teeth, our dentists at Waterloo Emergency Dental Centre can advise you on what options you have as far as getting your teeth replaced.
Dry mouth is uncomfortable and in some cases causes bad breath, which is something that worsens the discomfort. The reason why dry mouth is so common in seniors is because of the medications that many seniors are likely to be on. The average senior will often have different types of medications to treat preexisting conditions and ailments. Many of these medications interfere with the production of saliva, leading to dry mouth. If you are suffering from dry mouth, one of the ways you can remedy the situation is by stimulating the production of saliva. You can do this by chewing sugar-free gum and sucking on hard sugar-free candy. You can also keep a glass of water nearby and take small sips regularly. Caffeine and alcohol can make dry mouth even worse, so you might want to avoid this until you are feeling better. This means that you might also have to forego alcohol-based mouthwashes too. The same holds for tobacco.
Quite possibly, you’ve encountered someone with bad breath. The encounter was likely uncomfortable and short-lived. When a person has bad breath, their social interactions can be severely hampered. This is because bad breath affects not just the sufferer but the people surrounding them as well. Seniors will often suffer from bad breath if a) they do not follow proper dental hygiene guidelines b) they have gum disease or c) they have dry mouth which might be indicative of an underlying disease as well. The best way to deal with bad breath is to first determine its root cause. If you have not been brushing your teeth or flossing regularly, and then start to experience some bad breath, it follows that the culprit is your poor dental hygiene. If you have been following all your dentist’s instructions and still have bad breath, you might want to return for a check-up. Something else could be the matter and the earlier the culprit is caught, the faster the bad breath situation can be remedied. Our Waterloo dentists at Waterloo Emergency Dental Centre understand that bad breath is a sensitive topic and will gently discuss with you all possible causes and then get down to the business of determining the actual root cause.
Gum Disease As Major Oral Health Threat
Gum disease and tooth decay have one similar characteristic—they both creep up on you silently and surprise you when you least expected it. Because both gum disease and tooth decay require a significant amount of time to develop, many seniors often find themselves paying for the sins of their younger years. If you loved your sweet foods while younger, you’ll need to be very vigilant as far as gum disease and cavities or tooth decay are concerned. This is because the bacteria and plaque has had enough time to accumulate and you may potentially have a big problem on your hands. As with bad breath and tooth loss, the best way to prevent gum disease and cavities is to take proper care of your teeth by brushing twice daily and flossing at least once, preferably before bed. An antiseptic mouthwash will also come in handy as far as keeping the harmful bacteria away.
Improper Denture Care
Dentures need to be taken care of in the same fashion as natural teeth. When dentures are not properly cleaned, they become reservoirs for food debris which is later broken down to plaque. Plaque may not cause cavities in dentures—which is something that many people count on—but it will definitely irritate your gums, and potentially lead to gum disease. The best way to care for your dentures is to rinse them off after meals and to brush them properly before you retire for the night. Then allow them to soak overnight in a glass of cleaning solution. Continued care of dentures will allow them to serve you for as long as you need them.
A quick poll of seniors will reveal that many of them tend to have discoloured teeth. As you grow older, the natural processes of aging will cause your teeth to become a little off-colour, when compared to what you were used to. To prevent your teeth from discolouring even further, it is best to moderate your lifestyle choices. If you are a heavy smoker, you might want to cut that back a little. If you always take your coffee dark, regularly and in large and frequent cups, your teeth will be at a higher risk of being stained and discoloured. As such, you might have to cut back on the caffeine or ensure you brush your teeth after every coffee session—whichever solution is preferable.
The Waterloo Emergency Dental Centre is happy to answer any further questions that you might have regarding oral health problems in seniors. Give us a call today and let us respond to any and all of your concerns.