Most of us have a daily dental routine that we stick too almost religiously. Normally, it involves brushing twice a day, using mouthwash, and flossing but as we age there may be slight changes we need to make to our routine so that we can adjust to the body’s natural aging process. Things like periodontal disease, sensitive teeth, and the loss of tooth enamel are just a few of the dental concerns that seniors have to deal with as we get older.
Other factors that can lead to a decline in oral health for seniors are a poor diet, limited healthcare benefits and personal hygiene. Dental care under Medicaid or Medicare is simply not as good as the care we have come to expect from private insurance which often translates to seniors going to the dentist less than they should. Fewer visits to the dentist, not brushing and flossing properly and eating more processed foods can lead to more serious dental and health problems. Below are some dental hygiene tips for seniors to help maintain a healthy smile.
Money Saving Dental Hygiene Tips and Products for Senior Citizens
- Brush, Floss, Swish – Brushing, flossing and swishing with an antiseptic mouthwash three times per day are very important for everyone, including seniors. As we age, we tend to eat less often than we did when we were more active but that does not mean we should reduce our brushing routine. Instead, take advantage of the extra time you have during the day to brush, floss and swish regularly. For a low cost option dilute hydrogen peroxide with water two to three times per week to kill harmful bacteria caused by dentures or other forms of dental work.
- Electric Toothbrush – If you have not yet invested in an electric toothbrush now is the time to get one. As we get older, it can be harder to hold and use certain things such as a traditional toothbrush. Not only do electric toothbrushes clean much better than a traditional brush, they are also much easier to hold because of the design of the brush which includes batteries and a motor. The design of an electric toothbrush happens to also be the perfect shape for people with who suffer from arthritis pain in their hands. Be sure to consult your dentist to ensure your new brush is gentle enough for your gums. If budget is an issue there are plenty of inexpensive models on the market at your local drug store for around $12.
- Water Pick / Water Flosser – Water Flossers can be a great tooth to use with traditional flossing. By using warm water and pressure, water picks are designed to help remove food and build up in hard to reach areas. Keep in mind this should not be used instead of flossing but as another tool to help us maintain a healthy mouth. Be sure to find a unit where you can adjust the water pressure, as using too much force can damage aging gums. If a water pick is not an option try swishing with coconut oil for 20 mins. The viscosity of the oil helps break stubborn food free from trouble areas.
- Listen to Your Body – If you have pain or sensitivity in a tooth or you are experiencing sores or you have a permanent tooth that is loose and painful, consult your dentist before things get worse. So many seniors try to live with the pain or ignore symptoms simply because they don’t spend money on dental care. Understandably, this is not a good idea and can lead too even more serious dental work and health problems later.
- Dental Consultations – Going to the dentist twice yearly is always recommended don’t let that be a limitation. If you have a concern or question about something going on in your mouth, schedule a consultation with your dentist promptly. If you are having surgery or under new medications you should always consult your dentist about possible side effects that could potentially damage your teeth. Don’t forget your dentist is often the first line of defense when it comes to oral cancers and tumors so taking a few moments to consult with them could save your life.
- Maintain Dental Appliances – Keeping your dental appliances in good condition should be a top priority for seniors. Don’t get by with ill filling dentures and bridges because this can lead to serious damage to your teeth and gums. If you hate dentures you can also ask about cosmetic dentistry treatments such as dental implants and veneers that are essentially maintenance free.
- Dry Mouth Spray / Lozenges – It is inevitable that when we get older the need for medications becomes more important for keeping us healthy. Unfortunately, most drugs have side effects, one of them being dry mouth. Ask your dentist or doctor to recommend or prescribe mouthwashes and lozenges to help keep your mouth saliva at optimal levels. This would also be a good time to toss those old hard candies at the bottom of your purse!
Getting older can be a difficult and often painful experience when it comes to dental work, but by taking the proper steps and precautions we can limit the negative effects the aging process has on our teeth. For more information or to