Achieving and maintaining long-lasting oral health takes consistent effort and work. You can make your teeth last a lifetime if you take care of them in a proper manner.
Our mouth undergoes numerous changes as we age. Teeth can become less sensitive due to nerves becoming smaller, which leads to decay and cavities. Regular dental checkups are effective in determining underlying issues and treating them at the earliest.
Along with a good smile, a healthy mouth helps in enhancing your confidence and self-esteem as a result of better functioning of the mouth.
Tips for Maintaining and Improving Your Oral Health
As per the dentist’s suggestion, for cleaner teeth and a healthy mouth, brushing twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush is effective.
Flossing once a day, ideally at night, is essential.
- Denture cleaning
People who have dentures are recommended to take their dentures off for a minimum of 4 hours a day, preferably at night. Cleaning them is also part of the process.
- Quit smoking
Smoking contributes to lung diseases, and is a potential cause of tooth decay, gum diseases, or even loss of teeth.
- Dental checkups
To ensure optimal oral health, visit your dentist for a general checkup every 6 months.
Healthy mouths are a result of holistic effort. A good diet and improved oral habits are known to help achieve and maintain lifelong healthy mouths. Having implants or dentures must not prevent you from adopting good oral habits either.
Caregiving for a Disabled or Elderly Loved One
If you know people who may need help practising good oral habits like kids or the elderly, here are two ways to help them.
- Give a helping hand in reminding them to brush and floss.
- Help them to stay consistent with their oral routine.
To save yourself from complex dental issues in the future, it is better to take precautionary measures and develop healthy oral habits. If you or anyone you know find it difficult to maintain a good oral routine, talking to a dentist can significantly help. There are specialists who are trained to take care of people with specific needs like the disabled or the elderly.
If you are looking for a specialist, you can search Healthengine to find a dentist near you.
People who use dentures need special attention and care, speaking of eating habits. If you find someone with eating issues, the potential chances are that they have a denture problem.
Optimal oral health requires proper care of your teeth and mouth. For the people who are bound to the bed, there are more chances of bacteria getting into the lungs from the mouth, which may lead to serious issues like pneumonia.
What Seniors Can Expect During a Dental Exam
Dental visits do not have to be scary for the elderly. A senior dental assessment is simple and thorough, including their dental history and some oral evaluation. You can expect your dentist to ask you a few questions like:
- When did you visit the dentist last time and what was the reason?
- Have you felt any changes in your mouth recently?
- Do you have any sensitivity issues?
- Did you lose any teeth recently?
- How is your mouth functioning; chewing, swallowing, or tasting.
- Is there any bleeding, discomfort, soreness or pain?
- Do you feel lumps or swelling in your mouth?
A thorough assessment is followed by a dental exam that includes;
Face and neck:
- Skin discolouration
- Jaw functioning; opening and closing.
TMJ (temporomandibular joint):
- Temporomandibular joint functioning; clicking and popping.
Lymph nodes and salivary glands:
- Traumatic injuries
Tongue & interior surfaces:
- The floor of the mouth
- Soft and hard palate
- Gum tissues
- Signs of infection or oral cancer
- Decay & loss
- Condition of fillings and cracks
The Link Between Medications and Cavities
Having cavities despite having a healthy mouth is normal. As you grow older and enter in the 2nd cycle of your cavity-prone years, it is normal to have cavities due to dry mouth. However, it is not a prime cause of ageing.
The major factor for a dry mouth is the medications that older people use for various reasons like blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma, or anxiety. If you are on specific medications, you must inform your dentist, it can help you in treating a dry mouth and get the right treatment.
If you are having issues with dry mouth, here are some suggestions that can be helpful;
- Using moisturisers or over-the-counter mouth sprays.
- Changing medications or the dose.
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Lozenges or sugar-free gums are effective in stimulating saliva production.
- Humidifiers can help maintain moisture levels in the air.
- Avoid fizzy drinks, coffee, or acidic juices that can cause irritation to the mouth.
- The use of fluoride or varnish prevents cavities.
Gum disease is prevalent in adults because of the bacteria in plaque that builds over time with poor oral hygiene. If you are not taking care of your teeth in a proper manner, it can lead to more serious issues including bleeding, swelling, or gum disease. Gum disease is mostly painless until the advanced stages, therefore, it cannot be felt or determined on your own.
Gum disease, if not taken care of properly and at the right time, can lead to pulling away of gums from your teeth, leaving gaps. Food particles and bacteria start building up in those gaps that lead to major issues like destroyed ligaments and bones or teeth loss. General dental checkups are essential to prevent issues at early stages.
As per the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, approximately 2500 cases of oral cancer and pharyngeal cancer are reported every year. To save yourself from underlying issues that can cause bigger issues later, dental visits are always effective.
Do I Need to Take an Antibiotic Before a Dental Procedure?
Sometimes dentists and doctors may recommend a patient use antibiotics before certain dental treatments. This is known as “antibiotic prophylaxis”, and is suggested for particular reasons.
There are a few bacteria in our mouths that enter our system via blood due to chewing, flossing or brushing. Healthy immune systems effectively fight against these bacteria. On the other hand, antibiotics are given to people whose immune systems are weak.
Antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended by dentists to people with certain heart conditions as well. You can ask your dentists about antibiotic prophylaxis before moving on to your dental treatments.
How Can Seniors Pay for their Dental Costs in Australia?
Public dental services
To ensure optimal health, according to the area you live in, different states offer dental health benefits along with specialised referral services like orthodontics and emergency care. With a Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card or Health Care Card, you can avail yourself of benefits if you are eligible. However, depending on the area you live in, you may have to wait for a while for your visit.
Some states offer a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card for pension-age people. These are again discounts for seniors to cover the cost of dental treatments to some extent, and enjoy cheaper healthcare.
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