Long in the Tooth? Dental Health for Older Adults

Getting older is an unavoidable part of life. However, age doesn’t mean you have to lose your good health. Many age-related health concerns can be avoided with proper self-care. Take dental health as an example. It’s widely known that as we move into our later years, many people encounter more cavities and dental challenges.

Medications and Oral Health

Older adults tend to take more prescription and over-the-counter medications than younger adults. These medications often cause side effects, including dry mouth symptoms. Dry mouth means less cleansing and protective saliva flow, which contribute to oral health decline. Some of the more common oral health problems include gum disease, cavity and tooth decay, tooth loss, and oral cancer.

You can avoid many of these problems by taking the time to visit your dentist regularly. Be sure to tell your dentist what medications you are taking, if any. They will be able to make specific recommendations to help you protect your teeth and gums, such as:

  • Stay well hydrated, even if you are not thirsty. Carry a bottle with you everywhere you go
  • Talk to your doctor about changing medications or dose instructions
  • Avoid beverages that aggravate a dry mouth such as coffee, alcohol, acidic fruit drinks, and carbonation
  • Use oral spray or mouthwash moisturizers
  • Stimulate your mouth to produce more saliva by chewing sugar-free gum

Retirement Dental Care

Older Americans often begin to experience oral health deterioration sometime after retirement. Medicare does not provide for routine dental care, so many people see their dentist much less frequently than they did when they were employed with health benefits.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to prepare for dental care as you age. First, begin planning and saving for dental expenses long before you retire. Second, look for supplemental dental insurance with senior organizations such as AARP. You can also join a dental discount network for services at a reduced cost.

At Windward Life Care, our goal is to help San Diegans to age gracefully. We do that by helping individuals find the professional support they need. Call us for a conversation today.