As our bodies age and as we get older, the daily wear and tear becomes more evident. Patients over the age of 60 enter a second round of cavity prone years with one of the main causes being dry mouth. But experiencing dry mouth isn’t as much as a normal part of aging as it is a side effect.
Avoid these common oral health risks that seniors experience and follow our tips to help keep your smile in great shape regardless of your age.
The Link Between Medications and Cavities
More than 500 prescription medications are known to cause dry mouth as a side effect, including medications for allergies, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, asthma and even high cholesterol. Saliva is the body’s natural way of protecting your teeth and mouth from tooth decay and if your medication is drying out your mouth, you’ve lost your natural ability to fight back.
Fighting Back Against Dry Mouth
The first step in taking control of your dry mouth situation and preventing cavities and other decay is to talk to your dentist about any and all medications that you are currently taking. Relieving dry mouth symptoms and preventing cavities can be done with a few helpful dental recommendations including:
- Staying Hydrated. The best way to fight back against dry mouth is by drinking more water. Swish the water you’re drinking in your mouth before swallowing to keep your mouth constantly lubricated.
- Lozenges. Try sucking on sugarless candy, or dry-mouth-specific lozenges to help keep moisture in your mouth and stimulate saliva production.
- Sugarless Gum. Chewing sugarless gum will help to keep moisture present in your mouth.
- OTC Moisturizers. Use an over-the-counter moisturizer like a spray or a mouthwash that is known to help treat dry mouth specifically. Ask Dr. Zymantas for a recommendation at your next exam.
- Foods To Avoid. Avoid certain foods and beverages that irritate dry mouth such as coffee, alcohol, carbonated soft drinks, and acidic fruit juices.
- Fluoride Varnish. Have a fluoride gel or varnish applied to your teeth by your dentist for extra protection. There are also over the counter fluoride products available for home use.
Many patients who experience gum disease aren’t even aware that they have it because it is often a painless condition until it reaches the advanced stage. Periodontal disease is caused by the bacteria found in plaque, which irritates the gum tissues, making them swollen, red and leads them to bleed easily. Left untreated, gums can begin to pull away from the teeth and form pockets where more plaque will collect, ultimately leading to advanced decay and tooth loss.
Signs of gum disease include:
- Bleeding when you brush your teeth
- Gums that pull back from your teeth and recede
- Loose teeth
- Persistent bad breath
Expanding Your Oral Hygiene Routine
Maintaining a healthy mouth at any age is vital, but as a senior, you may have to expand your oral hygiene routine to ensure you’re taking the best possible care of your mouth. With so many other health problems as we age, it’s easy to forget about the importance in oral health. Taking great care of your mouth at home will lead to better dental checkups and better overall health too.
- Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss every day to eliminate plaque from hiding in between teeth.
- Schedule regular dental cleanings and exams to prevent dental issues.
Paying for Dental Care after Retirement
Many seniors run into the issue of covering dental expenses and routine exams while on Medicare. Planning for your future dental care needs early and before retirement is the best way to ensure your mouth stays in great condition even while you’re on a fixed income. If you have concerns about covering future dental care exams and treatments, ask Premier Dental Care about our solutions for seniors at your next appointment so nothing stands in your way of a healthy smile.