Oral Health And Teeth Care For Seniors Key To Staying Healthy
Oral health and tooth care in senior citizens is key to keeping them healthy, disease free, and productive. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) last week released guidelines for seniors oral care. The guidelines also help caregivers spot problems and take immediate corrective action.
Oral Health: Guidelines For Senior Citizens
The guidelines put out by the NIA for senior citizens health care are comprehensive and easy to do. Following these instructions not only assures healthy teeth and gums, but also reduces risk for developing other chronic illnesses.
Here is a summary of the NIA recommendations:
Oral Health: Tooth Enamel Is Your Protective Shield
Enamel is the hard outer covering on your teeth. Bacteria, called dental plaque, constantly builds up and covers the outer tooth surface. This plaque is composed of corrosive acids that, if not brushed away, will erode the enamel and cause cavities. The NIA recommends brushing and flossing at least twice a day. For seniors, many of whom suffer from weakened immune systems, brushing and flossing every day is super important.
Fluoride protects enamel and fluoride toothpaste is recommended.
Oral Health: Gum Disease
Gun disease occurs when dental plaque is neglected and builds up along and under the gum line. The plaque causes infections that erodes both the gums and bones that hold your teeth in place. Symptoms are excessive bleeding and swelling. At this stage, it is called gingivitis.
A more severe form of gum disease, called periodontitis, can totally ruin both the gums and bones, to the point where the teeth need to be removed to avoid serious infections.
To prevent this from happening, the NIA recommends that seniors do the following:
- Brush teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Floss twice a day
- Get regular dental check ups and professional cleanings
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Stop smoking, as it increases risk for gum disease
Oral Health: Correct Brushing And Flossing Techniques
To insure that seniors maintain good tooth health, it’s important to brush and floss with the correct techniques. Here are their recommendations:
- Gently brush teeth on all sides with a soft-bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Use small circular motions and short back-and-forth strokes.
- Brush carefully and gently along the gum line.
- Lightly brush tongue to help keep the mouth clean.
- Use dental floss as it removes food and plaque that the toothbrush can not reach.
- Rinse when done.
For seniors who suffer from arthritis, the NIA suggests an electric or battery powered toothbrush. If necessary, get a large handle toothbrush and cover it with a rubber grip.