The average lifespan is increasing, and that means seniors have more time now than ever before to enjoy a full and active life. It’s true that seniors in Livingston and throughout the country have a greater expectation of having a long, happy life. But if your teeth are in poor condition, chances are you might not be enjoying life as much as you should. If you’re going to live longer than your parents and grandparents, why not make it the best life possible?! Perhaps there was a time when living longer meant you were a likely candidate for losing your teeth and wearing dentures, but those days are in the past. And, even if you do have dentures, you want them to last. Whether you’re a denture wearer, you have your own natural teeth, or you have dental implants or any of the other wonderful innovations of restorative dentistry, your oral hygiene habits are a vital part of your healthy, active life.
Caring for your teeth
If you have all or even most of your natural teeth, you want to make sure you don’t lose them. This probably won’t come as a surprise, but brushing, flossing, mouthwash, and regular dental checkups are what it takes to keep those ivory babies healthy. If you do have all your original teeth, then you already know the way to keep your oral health at its best. Brush twice daily, floss at least once daily, gargle with mouthwash at least once daily, and visit your family dentist twice a year. It also helps to brush your tongue once a day, since this is a good way to get rid of bad bacteria in your mouth that can lead to oral health issues.
Caring for your dentures
If you’re a denture wearer, you want to keep your teeth looking and performing sparkly new for as long as possible. Treat your dentures just like you should treat your natural teeth. Keep them brushed twice daily for optimal performance. Additionally, your regular oral hygiene routine needs to include all the recommendations you received from your family dentist.
Hydrating your mouth
Seniors tend to have a tougher time keeping their mouths in optimal health because many medications can cause dry mouth. If you’re on regular medications, you need to take special care to hydrate your mouth often throughout the day. Because saliva in the mouth helps to flush out bad bacteria that can cause plaque, gum disease, and other oral health problems such as periodontitis and tooth decay, it’s important that you keep your mouth well hydrated all day long. Drink plenty of water and other healthy fluids throughout the day, and try to always keep sugarless gum or sugarless candies on hand for when you can’t hydrate your mouth with water.
Visiting your dentist
The need for regular dental checkups doesn’t stop just because people have reached a certain age. In many instances, dentists can detect damage to natural teeth, dentures, gums, and surrounding structures before their patients can. Seniors need to continue dental visits at least once a year in order to ensure their teeth are being cared for optimally.
Providing your medical history
Your family dentist often will need to see your medical records, especially if you have had surgery performed or you’re on medications. Be sure to provide your medical records to your family dentist in order to inform him or her of your medical history. This knowledge will help your dentist in providing optimal care.
Paying for your dental care
Many seniors live on fixed incomes they receive from Social Security and/or pensions, which can sometimes make paying for dental care especially challenging. If you find you’re unable to pay for the dental care you need, consider contacting free dental and medical clinics in your area for assistance. Additionally, organizations such as AARP may be able to offer, or point to, resources that assist seniors with low-cost dental insurance and other dental care. Some dental schools also provide low-cost or even free dental care, often for those over age 55 or age 62.
If you’re a senior, your dental health is perhaps more important now than ever. Because recent studies have shown a potential link between oral health and the health of other areas of the body such as the cardiovascular system, it’s important that you take the best care possible of your teeth and mouth. For more information on further steps you can take to keep your mouth and teeth at their best, contact a top dentist to schedule an appointment.