As you age, it becomes even more important to take good care of your teeth and dental health. If you want to feel good, stay healthy, and look great throughout life, you might be surprised what a difference a healthy mouth makes. If your teeth are cared for properly they can last a lifetime.
Tips for Maintaining Good Oral Health
- Brush your teeth twice a day.
- Clean between your teeth once a day with floss or another flossing tool.
- If you wear full or partial dentures, remember to clean them on a daily basis. Take your dentures out of your mouth for at least four hours every day. It’s best to remove them at night.
- Quit smoking or using tobacco products: Smoking increases problems with gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
- Visit your dentist regularly for a complete dental check-up.
By choosing healthy oral habits at home, making smart choices about diet and lifestyle, and seeking regular dental care, you can help your teeth last a lifetime.
Medications and Cavities
You may wonder why you’re suddenly getting cavities when you haven’t had them in years. As you get older, you enter a second round of cavity-prone years. One common cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. However, it is a side effect in more than 500 medications. This is why it’s so important to tell your dentist about any medications that you’re taking. Your dentist can make recommendations to help relieve your dry mouth symptoms and prevent cavities. Here are some common recommendations:
- Use over-the-counter oral moisturizers, such as a spray or mouthwash.
- Consult with your physician on whether to change the medication or dosage.
- Drink more water.
- Use sugar-free gum or lozenges to stimulate saliva production.
- Get a humidifier to help keep moisture in the air.
- Avoid foods and beverages that irritate dry mouths, like coffee, alcohol, carbonated soft drinks, and acidic fruit juices.
- Your dentist may apply a fluoride gel or varnish to protect your teeth from cavities.
Caregiving Tips for Someone Who Wears Dentures
You may have a parent, spouse, or friend who has difficulty maintaining a healthy mouth on their own. How can you help?
These steps can prevent many problems, but tasks that once seemed so simple can become very challenging. If your loved one is having difficulty with brushing and flossing, talk to a dentist or hygienist who can provide helpful tips or a different approach.
It is important to clean the person’s gums and mouth daily if they wear dentures. Remove the dentures from the mouth before you clean them. Moist dentures come out more easily. Asking the person to take a sip of water before removing the dentures can help. Gently rock the dentures from side to side to loosen them. Then pull them out.
- Brush the dentures at a sink with clean water and a denture cleaner.
- Brush the dentures on all surfaces with clean, lukewarm water. Do not use hot water. Hot water could damage the dentures. Be careful not to bend any clasps on the dentures as you brush them. Rinse them with cold water.
- Soak the dentures in a denture solution each night after you brush them. Rinse them in cold water before you place them back in the person’s mouth.
Talk to your dentist if you have any questions about maintaining good oral health or helping care for someone who wears dentures.