At West Bloomington’s Krengel Dental, we work with everyone from children to senior citizens, helping generations of families keep a clean, healthy smile. Thus, we realize how important oral health care is when you are getting older.
A recent survey conducted by Proctor & Gamble and the American Association of Retired Persons revealed that one of the top three concerns of seniors is oral health. Many believe that they are taking proper care of their oral health, but the results prove differently. The survey focused on the oral health of people born between 1946 and 1964, more commonly referred to as Baby Boomers. While 74 percent of participants said that they visit the dentist or oral hygienist at least twice a year, they are not keeping up with adequate care at home. Sixty percent of respondents said that they do not use mouthwash, 47 percent do not floss every day, and 34 percent only brush their teeth once a day. These are all important steps in caring for teeth and gums.
Here are the most common oral health issues seniors face:
Health Conditions: Seniors often have other health conditions that that impact their ability to properly care for their teeth. For example, arthritis or joint pain may make it more difficult to forcefully scrub away plaque, and poor eyesight can make it harder to see if every area was brushed. Recommendations for dealing with these issues include using a battery-powered or electric toothbrush and a magnified mirror. It is important to brush at least twice a day to remove plaque and bacteria buildup.
Cavities: Tooth decay is a very common chronic disease in people 65 years old and up. The risk for tooth decay can increase as root surfaces become exposed and dry mouth takes away the protective benefits of saliva. In addition, many older adults don’t go to the dentist as often as they used to, so cavities sometimes go untreated for longer than they should. Keeping regular dentist appointments at Krengel Dental is the key to getting cavities treated in a timely manner.
Dry mouth: Many seniors are on multiple medications for a variety of chronic illnesses or conditions. A surprising number of medications cause dry mouth, even simple ones such as decongestants. Dry mouth is deprives the mouth of saliva, which plays a critical role in preventing tooth decay. To help counter this, stay hydrated and limit intake of caffeine and alcohol. Check with your physician or Dr. Krengel if you think that your medications are causing your mouth to feel dry.
Gum Disease: Gum disease affects people of all ages, but it typically becomes worse with increased age. Proper brushing and flossing can prevent gum disease. Seniors having trouble gripping a standard toothbrush may want to consider a battery-powered toothbrush.