Ageing is not always fun, we begin to experience more aches and pains, need to invest in stronger spectacles and yep, you guessed it – our oral health needs change too! Factors like wear and tear, the natural ageing process and lifestyle changes make older Australians more susceptible to a host of oral health issues, like tooth loss, dry mouth and gum disease. While that’s not exactly something to smile about, hope is not lost! Seniors can take many steps to take better care of their oral health. At TLC Dental, we’re here to make oral hygiene for elderly people simple with this handy guide!
Common senior dental problems
Years of wear and tear tend to take their toll on our teeth. Unfortunately, as time goes by, the enamel on our teeth begins to wear down, leaving them more susceptible to decay. Before actual tooth loss occurs, it’s common for seniors to experience symptoms like tooth sensitivity, aching and discolouration.
As we age, we also become more susceptible to something called dry mouth. This occurs when less saliva is produced within the mouth, preventing it from remaining moist as it should. Not only can dry mouth result in unpleasant-smelling breath, but it can also make it challenging for seniors to eat, swallow and talk. What’s more, dry mouth also increases instances of tooth infection and decay, in fact, new cavities can form within as little as three months.
Periodontal disease (or gum disease) is also more prevalent in seniors, often attributed to other health problems, improper dental hygiene habits, poor diets and ill-fitting dental appliances. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss for seniors and is characterised by receding gums, wobbly teeth and even jaw bone deterioration.
So, how do we minimise the oral health issues that arise as we age? At TLC Dental, we know a thing or two about geriatric dentistry! We’re the family dentists dedicated to treating patients of all ages. so we’ve prepared some handy tips.
The best senior dental health tips
Brushing & flossing
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again – brushing and flossing is a fundamental part of good oral hygiene for elderly people.
We’re sure that you’re no stranger to brushing your teeth, but do you know why it’s so important? When you brush your teeth, it helps remove the plaque and bacteria that cause dental issues like tooth decay and gum disease. We recommend brushing your teeth every day, twice a day… but let’s not forget flossing! To remove cavity-causing food debris and bacteria, remember to floss between your teeth every day.
If you find that brushing has become difficult for you, we recommend elongating your toothbrush using tongue depressors, or asking for help. If you’re experiencing discomfort or struggling with flossing, it’s best to contact your dentist and discuss using a special brush or pick!
It’s also important to prioritise regularly replacing your toothbrush. Toothbrushes love to collect bacteria, so best to replace your toothbrush every three months — or sooner if the bristles flay. If you find yourself holding on to your toothbrush for a little too long, why not set yourself a three-month replacement reminder?
Maintaining dentures properly
At TLC Dental, we believe that the importance of proper denture maintenance cannot be overstated. Although dentures may be false, it is crucial to clean them regularly. Remember to brush them with water at least once daily.
Other denture care tips include
- Taking your dentures out to sleep.
- Soaking dentures in warm or cool water overnight.
- Avoid wearing damaged dentures.
- Ensure that your dentures are well-fitted.
Great oral hygiene for seniors involves regular dental check-ups. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to dental care, it’s important to visit your dentist at least bi-annually! If you’re overdue for a check-up or require some dental advice, book an appointment at one of our four friendly TLC practices.
At TLC Dental, we’re passionate about helping seniors maintain their beautiful smiles. We take a preventative approach to dentistry, so we’ll keep on top of your oral health and give your teeth the TLC they need.
Book a dental check-up at one of our four practices south of the river, including: