Healthy Oral Hygiene Hacks Every Older Adult Must Know
Here’s a way of keeping your oral health up to the mark despite your age related dental issues. Read this to know about the conditions you can develop and the ways by which you can keep them at bay.
In case you think oral hygiene and maintenance of teeth are only for youngsters, you are widely mistaken. In fact, older adults have to be more careful as they are on a greater risk of developing age-related oral health conditions, say doctors. According to them, most older adults develop dental conditions as they tend to ignore them earlier. Here is a list of age-specific dental conditions that seniors may get and ways to keep them at bay and maintain healthy oral health.
Bad breath: According to dental studies, about 85 per cent of people with persistent bad breath have a dental condition that is to be blamed and older adults are no exception to this. A majority of them may have bad breath due to some kind of gum disease which can either be gingivitis or periodontitis. Apart from a gum related issue, dry mouth and bacteria in the mouth are some of the dental problems that cause bad breath among older adults.
Tooth decay: Root caries or cavities is very common with elderly people. It occurs when there is a breakdown of teeth due to acids produced by bacteria. The acids dissolve the hard tissues of the teeth including enamel, dentin and cementum. Dry mouth which could be a side-effect of medication for several conditions like allergies, asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety, depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, is one of the common causes of tooth decay among older adults.
Gum (periodontal) disease: Periodontal disease is another name for advanced gum disease and is one of the prominent causes of tooth loss among older adults. Some studies point at the link between heart disease and periodontal disease. Thus, those with periodontal disease must watch their hearts as well.
Oral cancer: It is commonly found among those who are above 40 years. Tobacco and alcohol consumption stand out to be the biggest risk factors for oral cancer. Human papillomavirus (HPV) also increases the risk of oral cancer. Sores, lumps or rough areas in the mouth are common signs of mouth or throat cancer.
Mouth sores: Frequently seen mouth sores are aphthous ulcer that occurs inside the mouth and not on the lips. Mouth sores are often found among those who are denture wearers, have diabetes and are on cancer treatment.
“Apart from these five common dental disorders found among older adults, tooth erosion, tooth sensitivity, painful chewing and missing teeth are the other conditions that older adults may develop in the later stages of life,” said Dr Geethanjali KG, endodontist, general dental practice at BR Life SSNMC Hospital, Bangalore.
Speaking about preventing such conditions, Dr Kavitha Chandramouli, Chief of Dental Services and Sr Consultant – Orthodontist, Aster CMI Hospital Hebbal, said: “Good brushing techniques and a healthy diet will go a long way in preserving the teeth and supporting structures at an older age.”
Highlighting what seniors need to do to keep away from these dental disorders, Dr Balasubramanya KV, Head of Department and senior consultant, periodontist and Laser practitioner at Sakra World Hospital, said: “By brushing twice daily, flossing, scaling once in every six months, you can prevent Periodontitis or Gum disease. Rinse your mouth after intake of any sticky foods and brush before you go to bed to prevent dental caries or cavities. Follow proper brushing techniques to prevent tooth abrasion that causes sensitivity. Avoid night grinding habit i.e., bruxism and biting on too hard food substances to prevent wear facets. Do periodical body health checkups if any systemic disorder persists to prevent Dry mouth or Xerostomia.”
When to visit a doctor?
You must visit a dentist when you experience these conditions.
If you have noticed any recent changes in your mouth.
If you have noticed any loose or sensitive teeth
If you have noticed any difficulty in swallowing or chewing and any taste alterations.
If you have any pain, discomfort, sores or bleeding from any part of the mouth
If you have noticed any lumps or swelling in the mouth.
Tips from the dentist’s desk
Here are a few tips to help you keep away from a doctor and make your teeth strong.
1. Don’t go to bed without brushing your teeth.
2. If you wear removable dentures keep them clean.
3. Stay hydrated and avoid dry mouth
4. Limit your soft (aerated) drink intake
5. Limit sugary food intake.
6. Rinse frequently
7. Keep your tongue clean.