Dental care is important to maintain throughout your life to ensure you have the healthiest smiles as you age. Older adults (65+) face several unique challenges for their oral health. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), approximately 18% of adults aged 65 years or older with retained natural teeth have untreated caries and 68% have some level of periodontitis.
Many older adults are on medications that can cause changes in saliva, dry mouth and other symptoms. They also may experience sensitivity with drugs used in dentistry including anesthetics and analgesics. Dry mouth can lead to increased oral disease as saliva kills bacteria and reduce buildup of tartar.
Years of chewing and grinding teeth can also take a toll on your smile. Enamel can become worn down, leading to cavities.
As your gums recede, the roots of your teeth can become exposed increasing your risk of decay and gum disease.
How can seniors maintain a healthy smile?
- Visit the dentist regularly.
- Quit smoking or other tobacco products.
- Maintain a hydrated mouth. Check to see if your medications have dry mouth as a symptom. Drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol and chew sugar-free gum.
- Continue brushing and flossing and use an antibacterial mouthwash.