Hold on to your teethAugust 10th, 2015
We’ve all been there: you go to visit an elderly relative and whilst you are there you use their bathroom. On the shelf is a tell-tale set of ill-fitting dentures, languishing in their solution. Everyone loses their teeth as they get older don’t they? Actually, as long as we are well informed, and follow a good oral hygiene programme with help from our dentist, it should be possible to maintain a full set of teeth for your whole life. Today’s article looks at some of the common problems the elderly may experience when looking after their teeth, and gives some ideas for solutions.
Firstly, let’s consider the physical aspects. It may be that the dexterity to clean teeth as thoroughly is starting to decline: perhaps there are problems with hands or arms that may it hard to get into all the corners and reach all the gaps. An electric toothbrush may be the solution.The handles are thicker and much easier to grip, plus the brush itself does most of the work without as much input from the brusher. There are lots of other aids that can be used to help with this: speak to your dentist about what’s available and see what might work best for you.
Looking at a wider health perspective, the chance of needing to take regular medication generally increases as we get older. There are some medications which can lead to our mouth drying out by reducing the amount of saliva that is present. Saliva is key in helping to protect our teeth against tooth decay. Therefore, with a reduced amount of saliva present in our mouth, it may be that the chance of tooth decay is increased. Speak to your dental team who will be able to recommend over the counter products which contain artificial saliva to help protect your teeth.
As we get older, our mouths naturally change. One factor that is common in old age is that gums recede. This can make teeth more sensitive and so it might be uncomfortable to brush them in your normal manner. It may also make your teeth more sensitive to hot and cold sensations. This could mean it is time to introduce a mouthwash or specialist tooth paste to help to ease the sensitivity and to allow you to continue brushing thoroughly.
It’s also important to bear in mind the universal dental advice that applies to everyone: make sure you brush twice a day, keep sugary foods and drinks to a minimum, and visit your dentist as regularly as they advise you to.
If you have concerns about how you will maintain your oral health into old age, and how to prevent tooth loss, speak to one of our team at Ock Street. We will be happy to advise you and support you to keep on enjoying your smile.