Dental problems, including gum disease and dry mouth, are common among people who are 65 years or older. That is why it is so important for senior citizens to make their oral health a top priority. Unfortunately, not all of them do and suffer the consequences.
Read on to discover some common dental mistakes elderly adults must avoid.
1. Assuming You Can’t Afford Dental Care
Many seniors have to survive on fixed incomes, so they may not be able to afford extra expenses. Some of them may even skip dental checkups if they are not experiencing pain or other symptoms. This may end up costing you more money in the end. Instead, you should invest in preventative dentistry, including oral exams, professional cleanings, and X-rays.
If you’re concerned about the cost of dental care, you may want to join a discount dental plan, which can significantly cut your expenses.
2. Thinking That You Will Automatically Lose Your Teeth
Tooth loss is more common among the elderly. In fact, 27 percent of seniors over the age of 65 have lost all of their teeth. African-American seniors, women, smokers, and elderly people with lower incomes and less education have a higher risk of tooth loss. However, this doesn’t mean that tooth loss is inevitable as you age.
Inconsistent oral hygiene habits and trauma are common causes of tooth loss in senior citizens. If you thoroughly brush and floss your teeth each day, avoid tobacco, eat a nutritious diet, and schedule regular dental exams, you may be able to keep your natural teeth.
3. Neglecting Your Gums
Approximately 68 percent of people 65 years old or older have been diagnosed with gum disease. A common reason why seniors suffer from gum disease is dry mouth. If your mouth can’t provide adequate saliva to wash food particles and bacteria from your teeth, your gums can suffer. Therefore, you need to give your gums extra attention.
Besides brushing and flossing on a daily basis, use a dentist-recommended mouthwash regularly to reduce your risk of gum disease. If you take medication that causes dry mouth, remember to drink more water and chew sugar-free gum to help your mouth produce saliva. If you notice that your gums are red, swollen, or sore, let your dentist know immediately.
4. Not Making Time for Dental Appointments
Many seniors have to go to frequent doctor’s appointments, which may take up a lot of their time. They may cancel their dental checkups if they’re not experiencing any specific oral health issues. Unfortunately, this can lead to bigger problems down the road.
For example, if you schedule regular dental exams, your dentist may be able to diagnose cavities in their early stages. On the other hand, if you avoid a dental checkup and have a cavity you don’t know about, it can worsen over time. Instead of needing a simple filling, you may require a root canal.
5. Not Using an Electric Toothbrush
Arthritis is a common condition that seniors suffer from, which can cause pain in your hands and wrists. When your hands and wrists hurt, you may struggle to pick up a traditional toothbrush. You may even stop brushing your teeth every day to avoid the pain.
Instead of doing this, switch to an electric toothbrush. It does most of the work for you, so there will be less pressure on your wrists and hands.
As a senior, you need to take charge of your dental health. If you want to learn more about how to take care of your teeth and gums, contact our team at Accent Dental today.