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Posted on: June 12, 2013
With proper care, seniors can have teeth that last a lifetime
People often believe that losing one's teeth is a natural part of aging, but it's not. Many elderly people keep all or most of their teeth because they maintain good dental habits and visit the dentist office on a regular basis.
Still, teeth go through an aging process just as other parts of the body do. They become stained from drinking tea, coffee and red wine or from smoking. Some people may neglect dental care because they have arthritis, which makes it difficult for them to hold a toothbrush. Or they may have medical issues that interfere with good dental health.
As for dexterity problems, WebMD recommends making the brush handle larger by wrapping a sponge or adhesive tape around it.
Check health issues
Senior citizens may need to see their family dentist more than the customary two visits each year to prevent dentistry problems before they begin. Once bacteria from the mouth causes inflammation, it can exacerbate any medical conditions that the elderly person is facing.
For instance, older people often have to take a host of medications for different ailments. A common side effect is dry mouth because the medicine may inhibit the person's natural development of saliva. That could make the senior more susceptible to bacteria growing because there's no saliva to wash it away. Staying hydrated by drinking more water can help reduce the discomfort of dry mouth and wash away some impurities and food particles that allow bacteria to fester.
Seniors should talk to their dentists as they would other medical providers about the medications they are taking. Many dentists automatically take an adult's blood pressure before administering anesthetics, but if they don't, a senior citizen should ask to have a blood pressure check done before any dental procedures.
Keep teeth youthful
Dull, yellowed teeth often make a person look older. But cosmetic dental issues are easily remedied. Many whitening agents are available over-the-counter at pharmacies or can be recommended by one's dentist. Whitening strips are particularly easy to use, but rinsing one's mouth with hydrogen peroxide is another home remedy for seniors to consider.
In addition to limiting beverages that can stain teeth, seniors should maintain lifestyle habits that will make them feel better – a balanced diet, regular exercise and a good night's sleep – and help keep gums and teeth healthy.
While many people develop dental problems as they get older, those who take care of their teeth will find they can last a lifetime.