Losing a tooth in adulthood is frustrating and troubling for anyone, regardless of age or the reason. But for some seniors, when age and poor oral hygiene starts to catch up with them, preventing tooth loss can become a real and frequent concern. Here are tips on how to have better dental health for a brighter smile.
Seniors and Oral Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene in seniors can be more widespread than you might think. In fact, 70.1% of Americans age 65 or over have periodontal disease, otherwise known as gum disease, a leading cause of tooth loss.
There is no cure for periodontal disease, but there are steps you can take to keep it and other risk factors under control, as well as treatments that can minimize side effects, including preventing tooth loss.
Regular Brushing for Better Dental Health
Let’s start with one of the simplest ways to improve oral hygiene and achieve better dental health: regular brushing.
Start your day healthy and fight gum disease and tooth decay by remembering to brush your teeth first thing each morning. Since you should make sure you brush your teeth and floss at least twice a day, your goal for better dental health should also include, at a minimum, brushing and flossing your teeth before you go to bed as well.
Causes of Tooth Loss
Poor oral hygiene, eating lots of sugary foods, injury, illness, and smoking can all lead to tooth loss. Preventing tooth loss and reversing poor oral hygiene habits are also reasons it’s recommended that you see a dentist once every six months for a check-up.
Regular dentist appointments allow your dentist to assess your oral hygiene and identify and treat early signs of gum disease or decay. Many people put off making a dentist appointment due to the cost of treatment, however, state-funded dental health insurance programs may be available to help alleviate the costs.
What To Do About Tooth Loss
If you do lose a tooth and experience any pain, swelling, or discomfort in and around the gum where the tooth was, seek the advice of a healthcare professional.
You may need to make an emergency appointment with your dentist if there is reason to believe part of your tooth could be impacted in your gum, or an infection could occur or has occurred.
Tooth Loss and Cosmetic Concerns
You may also be concerned about preventing tooth loss for cosmetic reasons, especially if the missing tooth is in a particularly visible part of the mouth, or if you are missing several teeth.
In these cases, contact a dental health professional to discuss your options, including any opportunities to finance dentures or implants should you decide they’re the best way to move forward for your circumstances.
If you don’t have a dental professional to seek out for better dental health and comfort, and you’re a CareSync member, call your Health Assistant to help you locate one near you and to schedule an appointment. Remember, you can always ask your CareSync Health Assistant for additional support in all aspects of your healthcare, including helping you manage chronic illnesses that may have an effect on good dental health.
Struggling With Chewing Due to Tooth Loss
If missing teeth are causing you to struggle with chewing, then a simple change in diet may be required. Switching to softer, easier to chew foods should help.
You might try soups, mashed potatoes, mashed avocado, nutrition-packed smoothies, greens that can be cooked until they’re very soft, scrambled eggs, applesauce, soft-cooked fish, and more.
Or, you could blend your choice of foods, looking for options that still taste good to you when blended and ones where the change in texture does not bother you.
However, if you’re particularly struggling because of tooth loss, ask your dentist for advice. Your dentist may recommend dentures to make it easier for you to chew the foods you love and improve your quality of life.
Cosmetic issues and chewing problems aren’t the only things to be concerned about with good oral hygiene and preventing tooth loss.
Tooth loss can indicate you’re at risk for losing additional teeth. An infection at the site could result in the spread of bacteria in other areas of your body. And several studies raise concern that tooth decay and tooth loss could be risk factors for developing more serious health concerns.
For example, recent research suggests poor dental health in the elderly may be linked to an increased risk of frailty. Another study links tooth loss to an increased risk of dementia. And a large international study found that tooth loss can be associated with several risk factors for heart disease. These risk factors included diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking.
These findings are of particular concern because they suggest that tooth decay and tooth loss could be a trigger point for an individual developing more serious health concerns. This makes it even more important to reverse course on bad oral hygiene habits.
Steps to Better Dental Health and Oral Hygiene
If you’ve had good oral hygiene habits since childhood, great! Keep it up because it’s clearly worth it. But even if you haven’t been the best at taking care of your teeth and gums, remember it’s never too late to make a positive health change.
Something as simple as brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily, which takes just a few minutes out of the day, can lead to more than just better dental health and oral hygiene. It can have a positive impact on your overall health in general. So make it a habit starting today.
Additionally, make a plan to connect with a dentist to discuss your options for improving dental health. Your dentist can help you determine where your oral health currently stands and what you can do to prevent tooth decay or tooth loss.
To learn more about services from CareSync that help enhance the healthcare you receive, connect you with preventive care services, improve your relationship with your doctor, and manage your chronic conditions, visit our site today.