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Dental Care for Seniors

2021.07.21
Cynthia Hoy

Good dental care is important at any age, but older adults may face additional challenges. Aging occurs in every part of the body, including the teeth and gums. Dental care for seniors is as important as ever. 

Biting, chewing, grinding, and drinking over the years has worn away at tooth enamel. Tooth enamel that has worn away as you age makes you more vulnerable to tooth decay and damaging the teeth. Many seniors may have tooth loss making it difficult to eat and get proper nutrition. 

With advances in dental care, healthier lifestyles, and individuals taking better care of their teeth, more people are able to keep their natural teeth as they age. 

Continuing to focus on your oral health will help you to keep your teeth longer and in good shape so you can continue to enjoy your quality of life. 

Common Oral Health Problems in Seniors

  • Medications and common chronic conditions in older adults can impact your oral health.
  • Dry mouth, often seen with the use of some medications, can increase the risk of cavities and other oral health problems. 
  • With age, you’re also at a higher risk for gum disease and oral cancer.
  • Good oral hygiene helps to prevent lung infections such as pneumonia from developing. Harmful types of mouth bacteria can accumulate when the mouth is not cleaned properly. By practicing good oral hygiene, you can reduce the risk of harmful bacteria going to the lungs. 
  • People with diabetes are at a higher risk for developing gum disease. 
  • Gum disease can increase the risk for a heart attack or stroke. Harmful bacteria in the mouth may release toxins into the blood that can travel to the heart and cause damage to heart tissue.
  • Elderly patients develop more cavities at the root of the teeth than younger adults.

It’s important for patients of any age to practice good oral hygiene habits. Aging may make it more difficult to accomplish this. Finding accommodations that work for each individual is important and a key to staying healthy. 

Oral Health Care Tips for Seniors

  • Electronic toothbrushes may help remove plaque and seniors with reduced dexterity may find them easier to use. 
  • Brush and floss. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily.
  • Dentures should be cleaned and soaked daily. Health Link BC has an excellent guide on caring for dentures
  • Seniors often don’t drink enough water and can become dehydrated. Make sure you’re keeping hydrated. 
  • Avoid tobacco and consuming too much sugar. 
  • See your dentist regularly. At least twice a year for a check-up and cleaning.
  • Let Dr. Beeram know if you’re taking any new medications or if you’ve noticed a change in taste or smell.

Our Tsawwassen dental clinic understands the challenges seniors and elderly patients may face in maintaining healthy gums and teeth. If you have questions about your dental care or would like to book an appointment for dental treatment, please call our office at 604-943-6768. We look forward to providing your oral health care.