Dental Care Tips and Treatments for Senior Patients
The teeth are not immune to the aging process, making them more vulnerable to dental damage as we reach our senior years. Many senior patients can enjoy improved dental function and appearance with restorative dentistry treatments. Although restorative treatments exist, preventing dental damage is always preferable. Learn more about dental care for seniors, including tips and popular treatments, in this overview from San Diego, CA dentist Peter Hellwig.
Dental Care Tips for Seniors
Good dental care is important at every age, especially during the senior years when the teeth are more vulnerable to decay and damage. Senior patients can help protect their oral health by following these dental care tips:
- Floss daily: Gum disease is one of the biggest oral health problems facing seniors, and in many cases, it can be prevented with daily flossing and brushing. Flossing is particularly effective at preventing gum disease because it removes plaque and food particles between the teeth and along the gum line, where brushing often can't reach.
- Brush twice a day: Brushing the teeth at least twice a day can prevent gum disease and reduce the risk of tooth decay. To ensure effective brushing, it's important to brush the teeth for a full two minutes, use circular strokes, and pay close attention to cleaning the back teeth and along the gum line.
- Use an antiseptic mouthwash: Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash after brushing and flossing can further decrease the risk of gum disease, because it helps reduce the level of bacteria within the mouth.
- See your dentist regularly: Regular dental exams and cleanings should be performed every six months. Seeing your dentist regularly helps prevent oral health issues from going undetected, keeping your smile healthy for years to come.
- Denture wearers still need to practice good oral hygiene: Seniors who wear dentures still need to practice good oral hygiene. Denture wearers should clean their dentures regularly with denture cleaner or mild dish soap. Don’t use toothpaste because toothpaste can scratch the dentures, leading to stains. However, toothpaste should be used on the gums and tongue to prevent oral yeast infections and other gum issues.
Popular Treatments for Seniors
Even with proper dental care, some senior patients may experience dental issues as a result of the aging process, including tooth discoloration or general wear, and may wish to rejuvenate the overall aesthetics of the smile. Fortunately, there are many treatments available to address the unique needs of seniors, including:
- Teeth whitening: Professional teeth whitening can remove years of dental stains to reveal a brilliant, youthful smile.
- Tooth-colored fillings: Tooth-colored fillings offer seamless restoration of teeth damaged by cavities. Even old metal fillings can be replaced with tooth-colored fillings.
- Porcelain veneers: Porcelain veneers can mask flaws like small chips and severe discoloration, improving the appearance of teeth worn down by years of use.
- Dental crowns: Dental crowns may be used to restore the strength, appearance, and function of severely damaged teeth.
- Gum disease treatment: There are a variety of gum disease treatments available to restore gum health and prevent further damage. The type of treatment will depend on the severity of gum disease but may include root planing and scaling or gum surgery.
- Dental implants: Tooth loss is a common problem for seniors. Dental implants offer a secure solution for replacing missing teeth and restoring dental function. Dental implants can be paired with dental crowns for individual tooth replacement, implant-supported dental bridges for multiple tooth replacement, or implant-supported dentures for replacement of a full arch of missing teeth.
Receive Your Personalized Treatment Plan
To discuss your dental care needs and receive your personalized treatment plan, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Hellwig.