Taking Care of Your Oral Health Through Your Golden Years

Oral Health for seniors

Our mouths and teeth change a lot over the years, and maintaining a healthy smile into retirement means a commitment to good oral hygiene from the get go.

Dental care is often perceived as the province of the young. But maintaining good oral and dental health is an important part of overall health that will span a person’s lifetime.

Good oral health is critical for overall wellness and quality of life

For many people, tooth loss is viewed as an inevitable part of growing older, but we’re keeping more of our teeth, and keeping them for longer than we used to.

Did you know: In the 1980’s, over 60% of Kiwis aged 65 and older had no natural teeth but by 2009 this had reduced to 29.6%.
(source: https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/our-oral-health-2010.pdf)

So, getting older does not necessarily equal losing your teeth, and maintaining a proactive approach to your dental care means your teeth could well last you your whole life.

However, as we get older, our body changes and we become more susceptible to certain diseases such as gum (periodontal) disease. You’re also more at risk of cavities as you age.

So, how can you avoid the type of common oral health problems that may stop you from taking a bite out of life during your retirement?

Practice Preventative Dental Care

A lifetime of healthy teeth and gums means a lifetime commitment to preventative dental care.

Brush twice a day and floss regularly to help prevent gum inflammation (gingivitis) and gum disease (periodontitis), both conditions which can cause your gums to recede and expose more of the root of your tooth, which is more susceptible to decay than the rest of your tooth.

Schedule regular visits to the dentist to spot early signs of gum disease and tooth decay while they are still treatable.

Keep Poor Lifestyle Habits in Check

Lifestyle choices play an important role in determining the health of your teeth and gums.

  • DON’T Smoke
  • Maintain a healthy diet low in sugar, which provides plaque with the fuel it needs to produce the harmful substances that attack your tooth enamel.
  • Ensure that desserts or sweets are eaten with meals, when saliva flow will help reduce the acid buildup which occurs after eating sugars.

Dry Mouth

Older people can experience problems in maintaining a good level of saliva for a number of reasons.

One reason is the side effects of medications that are often prescribed for age related conditions.

Because saliva protects our teeth and mouth, check with your doctor whether any new prescriptions cause dry mouth so you can prevent problems before they start.

Even if you haven’t always taken the best care of your teeth, it’s never too late to take a proactive approach and keep a healthy and beautiful smile into your golden years.