Spit is a good alternative to lubricants
Seniors: Tips for Good Oral Hygiene
Thanks to medical advances, we are getting older. Healthy teeth and the correct care of implants, crowns, bridges and prostheses are important for the quality of life in old age. What do you have to consider? Take a look at our tips in the picture gallery above, or in detail in the text.
Impaired motor skills: electric toothbrushes and irrigators help
Older people often lose strength in their hands or their joints become stiff. To prevent tooth decay and bad breath (among other things), buying an electric toothbrush can be worthwhile. This simplifies your oral hygiene significantly, as you only have to lead it. The brush head is responsible for brushing or removing plaque.
The toothbrush cleans the tooth surfaces effectively, but hardly the interdental spaces and tooth necks. An oral irrigator can help to remove the leftovers from these areas as well: especially in the case of large gaps where flossing is of no use. Or even if flossing is not an option for you due to restricted motor skills.
Dry mouth: drink a lot!
The feeling of thirst often decreases with age. Diseases (such as high blood sugar levels or Sjörgen's syndrome) and medication often result in less saliva being produced in the oral cavity.
However, saliva has important functions: it neutralizes acids, has an antibacterial effect and contains minerals that strengthen tooth enamel. As a kind of lubricant, it also keeps the mucous membranes in the mouth healthy and supports chewing and speaking.
If there is little saliva, there is a corresponding increase in the risk of tooth decay or inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). In addition, a dry mouth often leads to bad breath.
It is all the more important that you drink a lot in old age: This moisturizes the oral mucosa and stimulates the flow of saliva. Chewing (sugar-free) gum also helps. Do not eat very sour, sweet and spicy foods. Breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.
If necessary, saliva substitutes can be used. Inform your dentist or dental hygienist about any medication you have taken. So your case can be discussed carefully.
Neck caries: pay attention to your oral hygiene and diet
As mentioned, the reduced saliva production or the difficult oral hygiene increases the risk of tooth decay. In particular, the tooth necks that are often exposed in old age are at risk. Because the dentin of the root surface is softer and more susceptible to acid attacks than that of the tooth crown. The latter is protected by the enamel.
Just like when you were young, diet and correct oral hygiene play an important role in preventing tooth decay: if possible, do not eat sugary foods or sweets in between or only when you are brushing your teeth immediately afterwards. Clean your teeth after eating - although you should wait half an hour for acidic foods.
If necessary, a fluoride preparation specially developed for tooth necks prone to caries can be helpful - in addition to toothpaste. Your dentist or dental hygienist will be happy to advise you on this.
Periodontal disorders: Have your teeth professionally cleaned
Due to various factors, the risk of diseases of the periodontium such as gingivitis and periodontitis increases with age. Without treatment, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.
But not only: Periodontitis can burden the entire organism. Diabetes or heart disease, in particular, can have a negative impact and promote strokes.
Have your teeth professionally cleaned by a dental hygienist on a regular basis to prevent the risk of gingivitis and periodontitis and their consequences.
Crowns, bridges, implants and prostheses: clean them properly and carefully
You should also clean crowns, bridges and implants properly and carefully. There are many aids for this, for example interdental brushes or fluffy dental floss.
Removable dentures - for example dentures - should be cleaned like your own teeth after every meal. It is best to use a specially developed denture brush and a gentle gel toothpaste that does not roughen and scratch the surface of the denture. In this way, you can avoid the accumulation of bacteria and discoloration.
With regard to oral health, the same applies to old age as to young people. However, oral hygiene conditions are often made more difficult and the risk of certain diseases increases. However, if you are aware of this, you can prevent many age-related problems.
Drink enough, inform your dentist about the medication you have taken and talk to him about any problems in regular check-ups. Get your teeth cleaned professionally too. So nothing stands in the way of good oral health, even in old age.
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