Maintaining good oral health care in your senior years is very important. At times it can be difficult due to many reasons: Systemic Diseases – There is sufficient research that shows that patients with chronic gum disease may be at a greater risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Patients with cancer in the neck and throat region may have dry-mouth (xerostomia), due to radiation treatment. Dry mouth can also lead to increased incidence of cavities, because of low salivary flow, which is needed to wash away food particles off the teeth.
Medications — Many medications prescribed by your physician can lead to dry mouth, swollen gums, taste alteration and burning tongue. Many of these symptoms can be resolved easily by altering your medication or decreasing the dosage of the contributing medication.
Manual Dexterity — Conditions such as arthritis, and certain medications, may make brushing and flossing difficult. Ask your hygienist or dentist for their suggestions. They may recommend an electric toothbrush and a flosser that can be purchased at your pharmacy. Electric toothbrushes are usually only recommended for patients having difficulty brushing with manual toothbrushes.
Poor Oral Hygiene — Brushing your teeth will remove food particles off your teeth, decreasing the incidence of cavities. Flossing between your teeth will remove plaque below the gum line, where your toothbrush cannot reach.
Proper oral home care combined with regular dental check-ups, no matter what your age, keeps your gums healthy and teeth cavity free. Keep in mind, that brushing twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste and flossing can go a along away to having a cavity free mouth.
Dharmesh G. Patel, D.M.D. Whiting, N.J. (732) 350-9494