The Importance of Oral Hygiene for Senior Adults

oral health issues in older adults

The Importance of Oral Hygiene for Senior Adults

In order to prevent cavities, gum disease, tooth loss, and other dental problems, it’s essential that seniors maintain a good oral hygiene routine. Because of some common medical conditions and prescription drugs that affect the mouth, maturing adults have a higher risk for a wide range of oral health issues. Dr. Saba and Associates is dedicated to helping residents in Sun Lakes understand the importance of consistent oral care, especially as we age. 

Why Is Good Oral Hygiene Important for Older Adults?

Although it’s essential at any age, maintaining good oral care is of particular importance for older adults. According to the CDC, nearly one in five adults 65 years or older has untreated tooth decay. Without treatment, tooth decay causes cavities, tooth sensitivity, gum disease, bone loss, and, eventually, tooth loss. 

Around 13% of adults aged 65-74 and 26% of adults over the age of 75 have lost all of their teeth. Luckily, you can reduce your risk of tooth loss by following good oral care habits like brushing and flossing regularly. 

The most common cause of tooth loss in older adults is gum disease, an oral infection that attacks the gums as well as the jawbones. If you notice that your gums bleed easily, or that they are tender, inflamed, or receding, contact your dentist as soon as possible. Quick intervention is the best way to prevent tooth loss and keep gum disease under control. 

How Oral Health Issues Affect the Overall Health of Senior Adults

Because oral health is linked to overall health, an unhealthy mouth can put a maturing adult at higher risk for some medical conditions. For instance, the bacteria from oral infections like gum disease can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body, causing inflammation in other areas. This can cause or worsen a variety of conditions that are common in seniors, including arthritis, high blood pressure, pneumonia, diabetes, and heart disease

According to recent studies, the inflammation caused by gum disease may also affect the development of certain eye-related diseases. For example, gum disease has been associated with glaucoma, a group of conditions that damages the eyes, and a common cause of blindness in seniors. Because there are many risk factors for glaucoma, it’s important to take care of your oral health to help reduce your risk. 

Six Tips for Preventing Oral Health Problems in Aging Adults

The best way for aging adults to improve oral health and prevent dangerous dental issues is to keep practicing excellent oral hygiene habits. Follow these tips if you want to take better care of your teeth:

  1. Brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes at a time. Electric toothbrushes are more effective at removing plaque from teeth and gums. They also do all the work for you and are easy to handle, especially if you have arthritis or limited mobility. 
  2. Floss daily—if you find traditional string floss difficult to use, try using a water flosser as an alternative. 
  3. Clean your dentures daily. They can harbor bacteria that can affect your gums and cause complications, even if you don’t have any teeth. 
  4. Suck on sugar-free candies and lozenges to reduce dry mouth symptoms without putting yourself at further risk of tooth decay. 
  5. Stop using tobacco products. Smoking or chewing tobacco significantly increases your risk of developing oral cancer. 
  6. Attend regular dental checkups for professional teeth cleanings and oral exams. Professional teeth cleanings eliminate bacteria that regular brushing and flossing can’t reach. Checkups allow us to catch signs of oral health issues in your mouth early so you can receive swift and effective treatment. 

Dental Care for Seniors in Sun Lakes, Arizona

Drs. Saba and Romanin have been preventing and treating a variety of oral health issues in aging adults since 1991. Whether you need preventative care or extensive treatments, we’ll provide exceptional care as we improve your smile. Call 480-895-2111 today to schedule an appointment or discuss our services. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (6/28/2023). Photo by RDNE Stock project on Pexels (cropped)