For many people, staying healthy with age takes hard work and dedication. Just like the rest of your body, maintaining your oral health will also require extra care to prevent issues.
Risk factors common to ageing that can negatively affect your oral health
Xerostomia– Also known as dry mouth, this condition is common among older adults. Many medications can cause dry mouth, and the risk increases when taking multiple drugs. Having dry mouth dramatically increases your risk of cavities.
Reduced dexterity– This can be an issue for anyone who has suffered from a stroke, a bad fall, arthritis, or has a neurodegenerative disease such as Parkinson’s. The ability to grasp a toothbrush and maneuver floss decreases.
Diabetes- Those over the age of 65 make up the most significant percentage of Canadians living with diabetes. Since diabetes affects your body’s healing and immunity, those suffering from this condition are more prone to gum disease. However, if you have uncontrolled gum disease, your blood sugars will be more difficult to control, and if you have uncontrolled blood sugars, your oral health will suffer.
Increased cavity risk– Many factors will increase your risk of cavities as you age. Dry mouth, gum recession, reduced dexterity and softer foods in your diet are all risk factors.
Choosing the right dental products:
Electric toothbrush– This is a helpful tool for those with dexterity issues, or for caregivers that assist with brushing.
Interdental brushes– If flossing is not possible, these can be used to clean between your teeth and are very effective at cleaning out larger spaces if there is a loss of gum tissue.
Dry mouth products– Products such as Biotene can moisturize the oral tissues, reducing the discomfort caused by dry mouth while helping to prevent cavities.
Fluoridated products– Dental products containing fluoride help to prevent dental cavities. There is toothpaste available with higher concentrations of fluoride for those who are at high risk of cavities. However, you should speak to your dental professional to see what would work best for you.
Denture care– Many older adults, have partial or full dentures that need to be cleaned daily. Brush your dentures with a mild soap and a denture brush. Avoid using toothpaste as it is too abrasive and can scratch your dentures. Soaking your dentures in Polident will kill any harmful bacteria growing on them. Try not to leave your dentures in all the time or your tissues underneath will get red and irritated. If possible, leave your dentures out overnight to let your oral tissues breathe.
Speak to your dental professional to come up with an individualized home care plan that will suit your lifestyle and your oral health needs. You may also need to have more frequent professional cleanings to maintain your oral health.