Oral Hygiene Tips for Seniors

brian rich dmd

A healthy mouth makes it easier for seniors to eat well, speak clearly, feel confident, and enjoy life. Consequently, the best dentist in Knoxville, TN, advises older patients to prevent toothaches, decay, cavities, and tooth loss by taking care of their teeth and gums.  

Practicing excellent oral hygiene habits is especially important for seniors with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease. We’ve pulled together these steps to help seniors achieve and maintain a healthy and beautiful smile.  

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Senior Dental Care Tips  

Brush and Floss Regularly  

Seniors should maintain good oral hygiene to prevent plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, from building up on teeth, causing tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss. For this reason, dental professionals recommend brushing at least twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Moreover, older adults who have issues with fine motor skills can use a toothbrush with a flexi-grip handle or an electric toothbrush.  

It’s also best for seniors to remove food particles and bacteria left in their teeth by flossing after meals and bedtime. Seniors who have trouble flossing should ask their dentist about using interdental cleaners, such as wooden or plastic plaque removers or water flossers, instead.  

Use Fluoride Toothpaste  

When the enamel, the tooth’s protective outer layer, is exposed to sugary or acidic foods and beverages, it loses some mineral content. Fluoride toothpaste protects the inner tooth structures from decay and revitalizes the tooth enamel. As fluoride replenishes the lost minerals, it helps prevent tooth decay by disrupting plaque formation.

Schedule Regular Dental Visits  

As people age, their risk for oral health issues increases, such as tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. For this reason, dental health experts recommend seeing the dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning. By ensuring regular dental appointments, their dentist can catch and treat problems early before they worsen.  

In addition, dental checkups make it easier for seniors to maintain oral health and function and improve their overall quality of life. However, it’s important to note that a senior patient’s specific needs and situation determine how often they need to come in.  

Drink More Water  

Since fruit juices, soda, and sports drinks contain high sugar levels that increase the acid levels in the mouth, drinking them can cause considerable damage to the enamel. Consequently, older adults should increase their water intake to protect their teeth from potential tooth decay. Besides rinsing away sugar and bacteria, water neutralizes the acid in the mouth.  

Steer Clear of Tobacco Products  

Smoking or chewing tobacco can significantly impact a senior’s oral health. Cigarettes contain chemicals that cause tooth discoloration, bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. Using tobacco products also reduces blood flow to the gums, making it challenging for the gum tissue to heal after an infection or injury. In addition, this habit reduces the effectiveness of various treatments for gum disease.  

Furthermore, smoking increases a person’s risk for oral cancer. It’s worth noting that their risk of developing this medical condition increases with the number of cigarettes they smoke and the length of time they’ve been smoking. Oral cancer can be fatal if the dentist doesn’t catch and treat it early.  

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Looking for the Best Dentist in Knoxville, TN?  

Dr. Brian Rich, DMD, is committed to providing high-quality dental care using state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge technology in a safe and comfortable environment. Contact our office today to make an appointment.

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