As you grow older and approach retirement age, you may see more and more of your peers having to get dentures or implants to replace their natural teeth. You don't want this to be your fate — but are there really ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy into old age? Yes there are! While the care you gave your teeth when you were younger surely plays a role, there are plenty of things you can do now to preserve your dental health, too.
1. Keep an eye on medication side effects.
Many of the medications prescribed to older adults, such as those for high blood pressure and arthritis pain, are known to cause dry mouth in some individuals. Dry mouth can increase your risk of cavities and decay, since you don't have as much saliva rinsing bacteria off the surface of your teeth. Keep an eye on the labels of your medications. If you are taking one that is known to cause dry mouth, ask your doctor if there is an alternative that is less likely to have this side effect.
2. Manage dry mouth effectively.
If you do notice that you're suffering with dry mouth and changing medications is not an option, make it your goal to keep your mouth moist. Here are a few tips:
- Carry water with you, and sip it throughout the day
- Use a mouthwash made for people with dry mouth
- Chew sugar-free gum to boost saliva production
If you suffer from dry mouth, make sure you tell your dentist. He or she may wish to see you more often for checkups and cleaning appointments to ensure any problems are caught early.
3. Explore options that make it easier to brush and floss.
Brushing and flossing might become harder if you develop arthritis in your hands or otherwise lose agility. Work to find solutions that make oral hygiene easier. For example, a toothbrush with a wider handle, or even an electric toothbrush, may be easier for you to handle. You may want to switch to flossing picks rather than standard floss, too.
4. Keep up with your appointments.
If you have trouble driving yourself around, don't hesitate to ask a family member to take you to your dental appointments. You may need to find a dentist closer to home so that it's easier for you to keep your appointments. Many dental problems in seniors could be prevented with more frequent cleanings and checkups!
For more information, reach out to dentists like Mark A. Massa, DDS, Inc.