As you grow older, oral health becomes even more important, especially if you want your teeth to last a lifetime. But tooth decay isn’t your only potential problem. As you age, you’re also more likely to develop other conditions, such as gum disease, dry mouth, cavities, and oral cancer.
Note: If you don’t have a regular dentist, there are plenty to choose from in Topeka. If you’re not sure where to start, the American Dental Association has a Find-A-Dentist tool you can use.
Some of the reasons why older adults are so susceptible to these conditions include:
- Simple wear and tear. More than 65 years of chewing can take a toll on your teeth. Your teeth also become more porous as you age, which can increase your risk for cavities.
- Medication use. Dry mouth is a side effect of many medications; it can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.
- Vigorous brushing. Brushing too hard over many years can cause your gums to recede, which leaves you more susceptible to cavities.
- Tobacco use. Any type of tobacco use can cause oral cancer. Heavy alcohol use can also put you at risk.
If you’re over the age of 65, here are some things you can to do improve or maintain good oral health:
- Brush your teeth twice a day. Use a soft brush or an electric toothbrush with soft bristles.
- If you have dentures:
- Rinse your dentures thoroughly after eating; clean the inside of your mouth using a brush with soft bristles.
- Brush your dentures at least once a day.
- Soak your dentures in a cleaning solution overnight.
- Rinse your dentures thoroughly after soaking (before putting them back in your mouth).
- Floss once a day.
- Use toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- If your mouth is dry, drink more water and/or chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless candy. Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and caffeinated beverages.
- Do not smoke, vape, or use chewing tobacco.
- See your dentist regularly (at least twice a year).
- If necessary, get help from a Topeka home care agency that provides personal care services.
Tip for caregivers: If you’re caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s (or another form of dementia), or providing elder care in Topeka, Kansas, you can help with oral hygeine by:
- Scheduling regular reminders (via a recorder or cell phone) to brush and floss.
- Helping with brushing and flossing.
- Cleaning dentures and doing mouth care.
- Encouraging the person to drink plenty of water.
- Scheduling dentist appointments and providing transportation.
- Enlisting the help of a Topeka home care agency that provides personal care services.