Maintaining healthy teeth and gums throughout the retirement years

Maintaining healthy teeth and gums throughout the retirement years

In years past, older patients might have resigned themselves to the eventual fate of dentures and not given much thought to dental care in their golden years. Now, many older adults are keeping their teeth throughout the rest of their life.

The benefits of oral health in old age go beyond having an attractive smile, too. Oral health problems like gum disease have been linked with other chronic conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, which frequently affect older adults as well. By reducing the impact of periodontal inflammation, older adults are protecting their overall health, too.

Older adults should work with a dentist to develop a plan for keeping their teeth and gums healthy. In most ways, this plan will look like that for a younger patient. For older adults, it’s particularly important to give up bad habits like smoking and to eat a healthy diet in addition to oral hygiene activities. [pullquote]Older adults should work with a dentist to develop a plan for keeping their teeth and gums healthy.[/pullquote]

A lifetime of wear and tear on the teeth puts older adults at greater risk for tooth loss, so this age group is more likely to need tooth replacements from the dentist. Thanks to technology like dental implants, these patients can access lifelike restorations.

The dentist may also recommend modified products or techniques for tooth-brushing in older adults with arthritis or other dexterity issues.

Even patients who do wear dentures or other prosthetic appliances need to maintain healthy gums. Be sure to clear bacteria from the gums using a soft toothbrush and clean the appliance regularly to remove bacteria buildup. Taking good care of your appliances will help to extend their longevity, too.

Of course, having healthy teeth and gums when you’re older requires good oral hygiene habits well before you reach your retirement years. If you start a routine of twice-daily brushing and daily when you’re young, it will be easier to keep it up as the years go by.

If you’re over age 65, don’t think that your years of visiting the dentist are behind you. Be sure to stick to a schedule of semiannual visits to get the professional cleanings that are so important to oral health. Regular dental appointments also give the dentist opportunities to identify small problems before they become major issues.

For more information and to schedule your professional exam and cleaning, contact the Tulsa office of Dr. Mark E. Massaro today.