Insights into Dental Health in Seniors
May 31st is National Smile Day! In honor of this event, and to help keep all our loved ones’ smiles bright and healthy, the team at UMC at Bristol Gen has some insight into common dental issues that seniors should watch out for.
- Gum disease – Poor dental healthcare, smoking and tobacco use, poor diet, diabetes, cancers and anemia, and poorly-fitting dentures and bridges can all lead to gum disease. This can cause tooth loss, and difficulty eating, and has been linked to heart health risks.
- Darkened teeth – Teeth can change color as we age. Yellowing can mean that the outer enamel is wearing very thin, allowing the yellowish dentin to show through. Brown or blackened teeth can be caused by long-term tobacco use, food, and drink stains, or tooth decay.
- Dry mouth – Low saliva production in the mouth can leave your mouth feeling dry, sticky, and painful. This can be caused by medications, cancer treatments, and certain health conditions. Dry mouth can increase the risks of gum disease, halitosis (bad breath), and infections, as saliva cleans and sanitizes the mouth.
- Stomatitis – This is when candida albicans, a type of fungus, develops in the mouth and causes inflammation in the tissue. This can be caused by poor dental hygiene or ill-fitting dentures.
- Loss of taste – Loss of taste can be caused by illnesses, dentures, certain medications (allopurinol, captopril, enalapril, nitro-glycerine, diltiazem, dipyridamole, nifedipine, hydrochlorothiazide, lisinopril, lithium, lovastatin, and levodopa) and advancing age.
How to boost dental health in seniors
So, what can you do to help support great oral health and prevent these conditions?
- Brush your teeth twice a day in a polishing, not scrubbing motion, using a fluoride toothpaste
- Floss your teeth once a day
- Visit the dentist or oral hygienist every year, if not every 6 months, to check on the condition of your teeth, your fillings, and oral soft tissues
- Be aware of the side effect of treatments or medications and increase visits to the dentist if needed
- Have dentures and bridges checked on a regular basis and properly fitted to your mouth
- Watch out for redness, inflammation, discomfort, bleeding, and darkening of the teeth
- Speak to your doctor if your medication is causing dry mouth, bad breath, or loss of taste
- Visit the dentist as soon as you notice pain or loose teeth
- Eat a healthy and nutritious diet, avoiding sugary foods
- Eat foods recommended for dentures/bridges, etc.
- Drink plenty of water, especially after drinking coffee or red wine
- Quit smoking
Bristol Glen is one of the leading retirement communities in the state, providing independent and assisted living, as well as long term care and rehab, in beautiful Sussex County, NJ. We offer a beautiful and welcoming space for seniors who need additional care and assistance to live a full and abundant life. Our nursing team is compassionate, fully trained, and ready to assist with stroke treatments for seniors as well as managing dementia, diabetes, and other medical conditions.