5 Oral Health Tips for Seniors

May is National Older Americans Month. Adults over 65 visit the dentist less than any other age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, as we age our bodies require more care and are at greater risk for disease than when we were younger.

Below are six tips for seniors for maintaining good oral health habits and attitudes.

  1. Brush twice daily
    A regular brushing routine is key to a healthy, happy mouth. Use a fluoridated toothpaste and, if possible, an electric toothbrush. As far as specifics on when and how long to brush, brush for at least two minutes morning and night.
  2. Floss once a day
    According to the AARP, flossing is especially important as you age, since gum tissue between teeth shrinks, leaving bigger gaps where food can get stuck. If you have arthritis in your hands, making it difficult to floss, you can also use an interdental brush. For best results, floss before brushing, which is most effective in reducing plaque between your teeth and in your mouth. 
  3. Watch out for a dry mouth
    Dry mouth is a condition in which your salivary glands do not produce enough saliva to keep your mouth moist. This is more common with age, especially if you take certain medications for high blood pressure, depression or insomnia. The AARP says that saliva helps prevent tooth decay by washing away food particles and neutralizing acids produced by enamel-destroying bacteria. If you notice a persistent dry feeling in your mouth, contact your dentist.
  4. Drink fluoridated water
    We know that fluoride works by stopping or even reversing the tooth decay process. It keeps the tooth enamel strong and solid by preventing the loss of (and enhancing the re-attachment of) important minerals from the tooth enamel. In 2014, 62.6 percent of Oklahoma’s population was served by public water systems that were fluoridated. We suggest checking if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated. If there is not fluoride in your water, you can discuss supplement options with your dental hygienist.
  5. Know what to eat and what to avoid
    Choose beverages like milk, which help strengthen teeth and build stronger enamel, to give yourself a healthy, beautiful smile. Avoid sweets that stick to your teeth and cause cavities, such as taffies and soft candies. Don’t chew on ice, hard candies or other hard materials that can crack your teeth. (Delta Dental of Oklahoma)

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