If you are an older adult and still have most or all of your teeth, then you should count yourself lucky! But don't rest on your laurels for too long — if you want to hold onto those teeth until your dying day, you want to continue to take good care of them as you continue to age. The following dental care tips for older adults may help.
1. Re-evaluate your toothbrush size.
Just because you've been using the same size and shape of toothbrush for years does not mean it is still the right one for your mouth. As you age, your gum tissue can become more sensitive, you can lose some dexterity, and the way you brush may change a little due to arthritis. Often, switching to a softer brush with a smaller head helps older adults continue to brush their teeth thoroughly and easily.
2. Use an antiseptic mouthwash.
Older adults are at an increased risk of gum disease due to lower immunity, thinner gum tissues, and a tendency towards dry mouth. So even if you got away without using antiseptic mouthwash before, it is a good idea to introduce it now. It will kill the oral bacteria that are left behind even after brushing and flossing. This will help prevent gum disease, which is really important since gum disease can eventually lead to tooth loss.
3. Bring dry mouth to the attention of your dentist or doctor.
As mentioned above, dry mouth is common in older adults. It can be a side effect of medications, and sometimes it's due to a natural decline in activity of the salivary glands as you age. Saliva helps rinse away the oral bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease, so a dry mouth increases your risk of these ailments. Don't ignore dry mouth. Tell your dentist about it, and they can prescribe a rinse or oral medication to help keep your mouth moist.
4. Ask your dentist if more frequent appointments are a good idea.
Most younger adults see the dentist every 6 months for cleanings and checkups. Ask your dentist if this interval is still okay, or whether you should go a bit more often. It is often a good idea to see the dentist a little more often so that if a problem does arise, it can be caught and treated sooner.
If you follow the tips above, you should be able to care for your teeth and hopefully keep them well into your old age. Contact a local dentistry office to learn more.