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Senior Dental Health – Help Them Keep Their Teeth

New Jersey Home Care News

Teeth are meant to last a lifetime, but tooth decay and gum disease can often get in the way. When teeth aren’t cleaned properly or often enough, plaque can form. Plaque can cause tooth decay, damaging the enamel that covers your teeth. Plaque that stays on teeth can form tartar, a hard layer that you can’t clean away by brushing.

Plaque and tartar can create a gum infection called gingivitis. People with gingivitis have red, swollen gums that bleed easily. If gingivitis isn’t treated, it can lead to a more serious gum infection called periodontitis. Over time, periodontitis can loosen teeth, and a dentist may have to remove them. Dental problems can also result from taking certain medications, having diabetes, having dry mouth, eating poorly or not seeing a dentist regularly.

Here are steps to help keep teeth and gums healthy at any age:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day. Use a soft-bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss between your teeth once a day.
  • See the dentist at least twice a year for a checkup and cleaning.
  • Eat a balanced diet and avoid sugary drinks.
  • Stay away from cigarettes and chewing tobacco.

TIP: If holding a toothbrush is a problem, try putting a wide rubber band around your hand and the brush to hold them together. You can lengthen the handle of the toothbrush by attaching a long piece of plastic or wood to it, or you can make the handle bigger by taping it to a small ball or a sponge. Try using an electric toothbrush.

If seniors have missing or loose teeth, a dentist can fit  dentures or put in dental implants. Mouth sores; lumps or rough spots; pain or numbness; or difficulty moving your jaw or tongue could be warning signs of oral cancer, which is why regular visits to the dentist are critical.

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