Aging presents unique health challenges, dental care included. Seniors are at a higher risk of developing gum disease, dry mouth, and root decay. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 23 percent of 65 to 74-year-olds suffered from severe gum disease in 2006. Oral-related cancer is another concern. Seniors are more likely to be diagnosed with mouth and pharyngeal cancers, resulting in an average 7,400 deaths every year. How can seniors focus on their dental care in an effort to maintain full-body health?
Oral Care at Home
Seniors should continue to brush their teeth at least in the morning and at night, but some experts say after each meal is ideal. Seniors should floss at least once a day to remove plaque buildup which could lead to gum disease. It is recommended that seniors use fluoride toothpaste and always drink water with fluoride to increase tooth enamel strength.
A well-balanced diet with healthy servings of fruits and vegetables will provide seniors with the nutrients necessary for prime oral health. Alcohol should not be consumed in excess, as it increases the risk of mouth and throat cancer. Seniors should steer clear of tobacco use, especially in conjunction with alcohol consumption. Both substances consumed together heavily increase the risk of developing not only cancer, but also many other oral health disorders like gum disease, tooth decay and infection.
In some cases, medications may cause dry mouth. Seniors should consult with their physician, describe the unwanted side effect and try to substitute another alternative. If unsuccessful at minimizing dry mouth symptoms, seniors can reduce the severity by hydrating with water and cutting alcohol and tobacco out of their diet.
Senior Dental Insurance
The CDC has documented that dental problems in seniors are worsened when they do not have dental insurance coverage. After adults retire from full-time work, employer-subsidized health plans with generous dental benefits retire along with them, and Medicare is not structured to offer routine dental care.
The most important step seniors can take towards improving their dental health is by continuing to see a dentist at periodic intervals throughout the year, regardless of whether the individual retains a full set of teeth. Preventative care can result in early detection of any cancerous lesions. Dentists will also examine dentures to be sure they fit correctly and are not irritating the underlying gums.
It is vital for seniors to maintain a comprehensive dental insurance plan. For additional facts and research on the health and financial benefits of senior dental insurance, contact us today.