For decades, dental care for senior citizens consisted primarily of making dentures to replace lost teeth. That is no longer the case. Thanks to advances in dental care and technology over the past half-century, people are keeping their natural teeth much longer than their ancestors did. In fact, many patients at our Irving dental practice who are well into their retirement years still have a complete set of their own teeth.
In many ways, a dentist will give senior citizens care similar to that delivered to their younger counterparts. Regular cleanings and exams—ideally every six months—are a must for retirees, just as they are for children, teens and younger adults. These routine appointments will help seniors keep their mouths clean and give the dentist an opportunity to identify problems such as gum disease when they are in more treatable stages.
Older adults do have unique needs when it comes to dental care, though. Saliva production decreases as people age, and certain medications may have side effects that exacerbate dryness of the mouth. The teeth also become more brittle with age, increasing the risk of chipping or breakage. Seniors with arthritis may find it more difficult to grip the toothbrush, and the dentist may recommend switching to an electric toothbrush to ensure that the teeth remain clean. It’s particularly important for older adults to speak with their dentist about maintaining good oral hygiene habits that account for these changes.
Even with the advances with dental care, some older patients still may need to have damaged teeth extracted. Those older adults who do lose their teeth have a variety of replacement options as well. A bridge or dental implant can replace a single tooth. Implants can also anchor an entire arch of replacement teeth while stabilizing the underlying jaw bone, as well.
Maintaining good oral health as you age is important to maintaining your overall health. Older adults should be sure to keep up with their dentist visits, just as they do with doctor’s appointments.