A few decades ago, losing your teeth and getting dentures or dental implants in Eugene was considered a natural part of growing old for many Oregonians and seniors across the U.S. Thanks to advances in modern dentistry, however, those days have come and gone. Healthy smiles full of permanent teeth are what seniors should expect if they receive regular dental care and maintain a quality oral hygiene regimen.
As we grow older, some seniors may find it more difficult to properly maintain their teeth than when younger. Arthritis, a diminishing of manual dexterity, and poor eyesight are just a few ways our bodies can naturally breakdown and make it harder for us to avoid gum disease and prevent tooth decay. Fortunately, seniors have a variety of tools, techniques, and resources available to help keep their teeth healthy for a lifetime.
Here are a few tips for seniors on how to protect their oral health.
What Seniors Need to Know About Their Oral Health
Common misconceptions about aging teeth can act as barriers that prevent seniors from practicing the best oral hygiene possible. Keep the following facts in mind when it comes to senior oral health:
- Adults develop cavities. While the popular misconception is that only younger children who eat a lot of candy get cavities, the truth is that tooth decay can impact your oral health at any age. While permanent tooth loss in seniors is on the decline, keeping your permanent teeth longer means you are still at risk of developing cavities well into your golden years. Preventing cavities at age 70 requires brushing and flossing daily, just as it did when you were 7.
- Don’t wait for pain. Waiting until you start to experience pain before seeking treatment isn’t a good strategy at any age, but especially for seniors. As we grow older, our perception of pain changes. What might send someone in their 30s running to the dentist in agony might not even register for someone in their 70s. Additionally, pain is one of the last symptoms to manifest as the result of an oral health problem. Typically, by the time a patient begins experiencing any serious discomfort, the underlying problem as already become rather serious. Receiving regular dental exams from Dr. Feldmanis is the only way to ensure your oral health remains problems free now and in the future.
- Teeth shouldn’t soften with age. Another common myth is that teeth naturally soften with age. If your teeth become weaker as you age, that’s a clear sign that you’re experiencing the effects of tooth decay or gum disease, and need to seek treatment immediately.
- Don’t stop brushing because your gums bleed. Gum tissue that bleeds after brushing is a sign of infection and an indication that your oral hygiene needs to be improved. Seniors or caregivers need to continue brushing daily even if gums bleed, as the only way to improve the problem and eliminate the infection is by practicing quality oral hygiene daily.
- Oral health can impact nutrition. When seniors start experiencing problems with their teeth, they don’t just stop eating entirely. Instead, they tend to make unhealthy choices with their diet by choosing softer foods like donuts, cakes, and cookies over healthier, harder foods like raw fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, increasing sugar intake only increase the risk of suffering from even more oral health problems in the future. Seniors that experience discomfort while eating should consider alternatives like getting dentures or dental implants in Eugene that can help restore the form and function to their smile.