Dental Health in Seniors Explained
As we age it’s important that we continue taking good care of our bodies, including our teeth! Dental health is important for people of all ages, but it’s especially important that older adults manage their oral health and pay close attention to their teeth and gums. Fear or dislike of the dentist is very common, and we’ve all heard people – maybe even ourselves – say “Ugh, I hate going to the dentist!” but skipping regular dental exams and teeth cleanings can result in more problems down the line. It’s best to establish a regular dental care routine with your dentist now.
If you have an older adult in your life who hasn’t been taking great care of their teeth, or if your senior loved one has started experiencing oral health issues, we recommend you encourage them to schedule a dental appointment and maybe even volunteer to accompany them to ease their nerves. There are also ways they can boost their own dental health at home, with seemingly small but significant everyday habits.
How to boost dental health in seniors
- Brush the teeth and gums at least twice a day using a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Don’t brush too vigorously and be gentle with the gums.
- Try to floss once a day. This can even be done while sitting in front of the TV in the evenings.
- Avoid eating too many sugary foods, because sugar can cause the teeth to decay. Eating a healthy, nutritious diet is good for the whole body, including your teeth.
- Drink enough water every day, especially after drinking coffee or red wine. Most of us enjoy starting our day with a nice cup of hot coffee, but it’s notorious for staining the teeth, so always follow it with a glass of water.
- Don’t smoke. Among the other negative health effects that smoking causes, it also yellows your teeth.
- Be aware of any side effects your medications can cause, and discuss them with your doctor and your dentist.
What seniors can expect during a dental exam
Whether you visit the dentist regularly for teeth cleanings and exams, or it’s been years since your last check-up, here’s what you can expect during a dental exam:
First, your dentist will review your history, ask you about the current condition of your teeth and gums, and confirm what will happen during your appointment. You can expect your dentist to ask questions about any recent changes you’ve noticed to your oral health, any concerns you have about fillings or crowns, and if you’re experiencing any discomfort or pain. Then, you’ll have an oral exam during which your dentist will examine your neck and your face, your bite, your jaw, your salivary glands and lymph nodes, your tongue, the roof of your mouth, and of course your teeth and gums.
If you have fillings, crowns, or wear dentures, your dentist will check that they are still in good condition and that they still fit your mouth properly. You may or may not have x-rays taken, depending on how long it’s been since your last dental exam, and your dentist will also give you a chance to discuss any issues or concerns.
We understand that visiting the dentist can be intimidating, but rest assured your dentist will do everything possible to make your exam pleasant. , pPlus, catching a dental issue while it’s relatively small can prevent it from turning into a bigger and more painful problem.
Prioritizing good hygiene and care at UMC
At our full-service assisted living communities, we have associates on-site all hours of the day to support residents to live their best life.
Our highly trained and compassionate associates are there to check in on mom and dad throughout the day and assist with any hygiene or personal care needs, including but not limited to, getting dressed, going to the bathroom, washing their face or hair, and of course, reminding them to brush their teeth!
For more information about our personal care services, or if you have any questions about one of our assisted living communities, please contact our team at UMC or visit our website at: https://umcommunities.org