Maintaining good oral hygiene is a necessary component to living an overall healthy life. Older adults with healthier dental routines and who schedule regular checkups and cleanings with their dentist often enjoy better gum health, less tooth decay, and have an easier time eating as they advance in age.
Unfortunately, many elderly Americans are unable to maintain proper oral hygiene. Whether it is because of physical difficulties, neglectful care on the part of caretakers, or losing dental insurance after retirement, too many older adults suffer from deteriorating oral health.
According to the CDC, some of the most common oral health problems older people experience are:
- Cavities and tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Tooth loss (that leads to dentures)
- Oral and pharyngeal cancers
- Dry mouth caused by medications for chronic illness
The CDC estimates that nearly 70% of Americans over the age of 65 suffer from gum disease, and a quarter of Americans over the age of 75 have lost all of their teeth. These oral health problems make it difficult for elderly people to eat and enjoy their food, which could lead to weight loss and other serious side effects.
Dry mouth is a common and serious side effect of some medications because it makes it difficult to speak and swallow. Additionally, when the mouth does not produce enough saliva, it encourages tooth decay, because saliva naturally cleanses the mouth of harmful bacteria.
As people get older, dentists recommend taking these steps toward maintaining oral health:
- Brush your teeth twice each day – after your first meal and before going to sleep. Using a fluoride toothpaste will clean plaque from your teeth that can build and lead to cavities and gum disease.
- Floss at least once per day. Flossing cleans food particles that are lodged between your teeth, which could cause plaque buildup and gum disease.
- Be aware of unusual signs in your mouth – these could be signs of cancer, including
- An uncomfortable spot or growth on your lips or in your throat
- A red or white patch of color inside your cheek or on your tongue
- Any mouth numbness
- A swollen jaw
Contact Babylon Dental Care
Despite the difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is still essential to maintain a healthy routine at home while routine checkups are temporarily unavailable. The team at Babylon Dental Care is available to serve clients in emergencies, however, and we are abiding by strict safety measurements to ensure the health of each of our patients. Please call us at (631) 983-6665 or reach out online if you have concerns about your oral health.