May is Older Americans Month, and this is a great opportunity to discuss dental problems that often occur in men and women who are 65 or older. Routine dental exams and cleanings are the best way to keep your smile healthy at any age, but you may be surprised about some of the things that can affect your teeth and gums.
The Return of Cavities
Like acne, cavities are perceived as being a problem that only occurs in younger patients as they learn good oral hygiene habits, but cavities are a common problem amongst older patients. After age 60, we enter what is considered the second stage of cavity development in our lifetimes.
The Culprit? Dry Mouth
Hundreds of medications result in dry mouth as a side effect. Without proper saliva levels, your teeth and gums are more vulnerable to bacteria, food particles, plaque and tartar. Some medical conditions also cause dry mouth, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. If you are taking care of a parent or grandparent who has been diagnosed with one of these conditions, pay special attention to their oral hygiene. Because of how dry mouth affects your smile, you should tell your dental hygienist about any changes to your medications and health, even if those changes seem minor.
Tips for Treating Dry Mouth in Older Patients
The medications that you take for cholesterol, anxiety, blood pressure and other conditions are important for your health and quality of life, so you can follow some tips to keep your mouth hydrated.
- Drink more water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Always keep a bottle with you.
- Ask your dentist about dental varnish or fluoride gel to protect your teeth from cavities.
- Keep a supply of sugar-free lozenges or gum handy to stimulate saliva production.
- Change your diet to reduce the amount of fruit juices, coffee, alcohol and sodas. Replace these with water. You can add some flavored electrolyte powders to give it flavor.
- Use a humidifier at home. This will keep your sinuses moist as well.
Learn More About Oral Hygiene for Older Patients. Contact Centennial Dental Center.
To learn more about dental services for older patients, dental implants, TMJ treatment and our other services, contact Centennial Dental Center to schedule an appointment. You can contact our office in Boise directly at (208) 322-1112.