Last Updated on November 24, 2022 by ashley.davis
Dental care is important at any age, but it’s especially crucial for seniors. Unfortunately, many elderly people don’t receive the dental care they need. This can lead to a range of health problems, from tooth decay to infection. This article focuses on the importance of dental care for seniors. And in the end, we have listed the top seven effective dental care tips for every older citizen out there.
So, Read on for our top tips for keeping your teeth healthy and your smile looking great!
Why Senior Dental Care Should Be a Priority?
If you want to live a healthy life, then it is essential that your teeth stay clean and strong. Not getting routine dental care can lead not only towards common problems but also an unhealthy lifestyle for seniors who might otherwise enjoy good food or eat better than most people their age
Thus, the importance of senior dental care cannot be overstated. Let’s look at some of the main reasons why your dental hygiene should be your a top priority.
1. Tooth decay
Tooth decay is a serious problem for seniors, as it can lead to pain, infection, and even tooth loss. There are a number of factors that contribute to tooth decay, including poor dental hygiene, a dry mouth, and a diet high in sugary or acidic foods. Besides, underlying health issues such as asthma, high blood pressure, and depression can also cause tooth decay.
2. Gum disease
Gum disease is a serious problem for seniors, as it can lead to tooth loss and other health complications. The first stage of gum disease, gingivitis, is characterized by red, swollen gums that bleed easily. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a more serious form of the disease.
Periodontitis damages the gum tissue and bone, causing teeth to become loose and eventually fall out. In addition to causing tooth loss, gum disease has also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
3. Tooth loss
Tooth loss is another common concern for older adults when they stop visiting the dentist. Tooth loss can lead to malnutrition for seniors. This is because they are not able to eat properly when they don’t have enough teeth.
It is important for seniors and dental care patients to control their blood sugar levels. In fact, too much sweetness helps bacteria grow inside the mouth which can lead to not only inflammation but also gum disease. So, opting for sugar alternative food items can be beneficial for improved oral health.
Senior citizens who smoke have a much higher risk of developing oral diseases that can lead to bacterial pneumonia. The bacteria travel easily from their mouths into the lungs where they cause several lung-related illnesses, such as emphysema – so senior smokers need dental assistance if they smoke.
6. Oral cancer
It’s a sad but true fact that many older adults are at risk for oral cancer. Senior citizens who habitually chew tobacco or smoke need dental care immediately so they can detect and prevent this dangerous illness before it gets too late!
What Are the 7 Most Effective Dental Tips for Seniors?
There are many things that seniors can do to protect their teeth and keep their mouths healthy. Here are 7 of the most effective senior dental care tips!
1. Regular dentist checkup
See your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. Your dentist can identify potential problems early and recommend treatments to keep your mouth healthy. Regular dental screenings are especially crucial if you have diabetes as people with diabetes are at increased risk for developing gum disease. So, consider going to senior dental care centers near you for regular checkups.
2. Follow a balanced diet
Eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid sugary snacks and drinks as well as sticky foods that can cling to your teeth.
3. Give up smoking
Don’t smoke or use other tobacco products. Tobacco use is a major risk factor for developing gum disease and other oral health problems. Cigarettes or pipes can even cause dental cancer. Your dentist can guide you through several techniques to stop smoking.
4. Denture and implant care
Your natural teeth will no longer be there as you grow old. It is quite normal, really! So, you may have a denture or implant in your teeth. A proper dental care plan involves taking care of dentures and implants as well.
You can clean the denture by removing and brushing them with a toothbrush. You can also do the same thing for the implants. Just don’t try to remove them! Instead, brush your teeth and floss the implant with extra care.
5. Use antibacterial mouthwash
Germs and bacteria can build gum, plaque and tooth loss inside the mouth. So, in this step, consider using a mouthwash regularly. The mouthwash you use should have antibacterial properties. Use mouthwash every time you brush and floss your teeth.
6. Use a proper toothbrush
Are you using the same brand and style of toothbrush forever now? You should consider changing it soon. A lot of your dental care plan revolves around the toothbrush you use.
Consider using a toothbrush with a small head and soft bristles. This will help you get to the corners of your mouth. You can also find many products approved by professional dentists.
7. Stay hydrated and avoid dry mouth
As you know already, dry mouth is the cause of many dental problems. And older adults are more prone to dry mouth than anyone else. So, avoiding it is the least thing you can do for dental care.
The best way to avoid dry mouth is to be hydrated. So drink as much water as possible throughout the day. And we would recommend NOT including alcohol as drinkable water in your list.
You can also consider chewing sugar-free gum. It will help create saliva in your mouth. Thus, you can prevent your mouth from drying out.
How to Find Dental Care Near You?
Are you looking for senior dental care near me? Now that you know the dental care tips, you must be searching for dental care centers. But, don’t worry, you should find one easily!
But what to do for dental care for seniors without insurance? Medicare will not cover the expenses. And some states have limitations on Medicaid coverage. So, you would have to check several options around you.
The first thing to check is- free dental care for seniors near me. Websites such as the Health Resources & Services Administration has more information about them.
There are some dental clinics where students check patients at low costs. Professional dentists supervise those students. You can visit the NIDCR website for more details.
Many dental hygiene schools also offer low-cost services for seniors. Check out your state-listed schools online.
You can also call your state health department to find nearby dental clinics.
Everyone deserves a healthy smile. But, as seniors, this does come at a price! And the price is taking good care of your dental care routine.
Senior dental care is an essential aspect of senior living. There are many risks associated with an unhygienic mouth. Everyone should give more priority to dental hygiene to prevent different oral health problems.
These dental tips for seniors are focused on ensuring our elderly loved ones look the best when they smile. Also, older people can eat better and healthier food with quality teeth. All in all, healthy and quality teeth can make lives better for people of any age.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Medicaid Cover Dentures for Seniors?
Unfortunately, Medicaid doesn’t cover the cost of dentures in most states. However, there are a handful states where it does cover some of the cost of dentures. The coverage for dental care in those states varies depending on what criteria you meet.
What Are the Best Dental Insurance Plans for Seniors?
The best insurance plans for seniors depend on a number of factors. For example, if you are looking for affordable dental insurance plans, then Cigna would be the appropriate choice. But overall, Anthem and United Healthcare are better choices even though the cost is a little higher. Anthem has wide coverage benefits and decent waiting times, while United Healthcare has access to AARP benefits and offers Medicare Advantage plans. Apart from that, Guardian and Aetna are good options too. Guardian has zero waiting period for preventive care and six months for other basic plans, and no deductibles for in-network beneficiaries. Aetna is the best choice for national coverage with a huge network, and they even deliver prescription drugs at home.
Is It Safe for Seniors to Go to the Dentist?
Though there are some safety concerns for seniors to visit dentists during the Covid-19 pandemic, most dental clinics and offices take safety measures to ensure patients feel comfortable. So, it is safe for seniors to go to the dentist. In fact, it is recommended to visit them once every six months to prevent any gum disease or other oral complications. However, make sure to call the dental office to learn about their COVID-19 protocol before making an appointment.