Surveys have found that 90 percent of adults retain an average of 23.5 teeth. Nearly one-third of all adults retain all 28 of their permanent teeth, while 50 percent of adults over the age of 55 wear partial or complete dentures.
Whether tending to dentures or trying to maintain their permanent teeth, seniors face a number of special oral health concerns, including periodontal disease and root decay. Fortunately, seniors, adults and children alike can all maintain the health of their teeth and gums by practicing quality oral hygiene and scheduling routine dental visits with Dr. Feldmanis.
In addition to the cavities we have all been warned about since childhood, there are two primary types of decay that adults need to worry about as they get older. Root decay occurs when an individual’s gum line starts to recede, exposing the delicate root surface below. Tooth decay can be cause when old fillings become weakened or chipped. Both of these types of decay can cause symptoms that result in intense pain and may require the removal of the affected tooth.
By far, the most effective tool a patient has against the effects of decay is to brush and floss daily. These habits are especially important for seniors who take medication that cause dry mouth as a symptom.
Approximately 75 percent of seniors suffer from some form of periodontal disease, more commonly referred to as gum disease. Common signs of gum disease include bleeding following brushing and flossing, pain when chewing, gums that appear swollen or red, and a change in the way teeth fit together when biting. Studies have found that the bacteria responsible for the development of gum disease may increase an individual’s risk of several chronic health problems, including respiratory ailments, heart disease and oral cancer.
When treated in time, gum disease may be completely reversible.
Oral Hygiene for Seniors
Individuals who wear complete or partial dentures shouldn’t ignore their oral hygiene. Dentures need to be cleaned daily with a brush, toothpaste or denture power, and any remaining teeth also need to receive daily brushing. Even if a patient has lost of his or her teeth, they still need to clean their mouths daily to remove any linger food particles or bacteria that have built up along the gum line.
Dentures need to be cleaned inside and out, and rinsed with cool water. When not in use, patients should soak their dentures in water or a cleaning solution to prevent them from drying out.
In addition to brushing and flossing daily, seniors still need to schedule regular checkups, even if they wear partial or complete dentures. Regular checkups allow Dr. Feldmanis to ensure a patient’s dentures fit securely, and to look for any signs of oral disease or cancer that may have developed.
Seniors should also consider changing their diets to improve their oral health. Dairy products offer plenty of calcium and vitamin D that helps to strengthen teeth and bones. Whole grain breads are a great source of B vitamins and iron, which helps to keep gum tissue healthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain a number of valuable nutrients, such as vitamin C, that are vital for maintaining gum health, while eating lean red meat, fish and poultry provides iron and protein need to make teeth strong.
Better oral health is possible as you age, but a commitment is needed in order to keep your teeth and gums healthy well into the golden years. If you have any questions about the best practices for improving oral health or maintain your dentures, feel free to ask the best dentist in Eugene, OR, Dr. Feldmanis during your next appointment.