Senior’s Oral Health Care

A senior black woman smiles and looks up outdoors on a beautiful day.

With many of today’s seniors having all or most of their own teeth, regular dental care is an important part of health promotion and disease prevention. Teeth often get cavities around the necks of the crown – this is where the crown and root meet at the gums. This area can become sensitive with age and seniors tend to brush these areas less regularly due to the discomfort. It is best to discuss desensitization methods with a dentist.

 If a sticky white substance called plaque is left in these areas due to a lack of cleaning, decay may begin around the neck of the tooth. Plaque build-up and decay can be accelerated by a dry mouth, certain kinds of medication, and decreased dexterity or flexibility which hinder an individual’s ability to clean their teeth thoroughly. The resulting cavities are called root caries. Root caries can be treated quickly and effectively when detected early by a dentist. It is best to see a dentist regularly in order to prevent the formation of root caries and other types of cavities before decay begins.”

For seniors with partial dentures root caries can occur where the clasps (wires) on the denture clasp the tooth to stabilize the denture. These are important areas to keep especially clean.

It is important to remember that dentures should fit properly and not cause discomfort. They need to be checked regularly to make sure they fit well, are not rubbing the gums or dislodging while speaking, smiling, eating and talking. If this happens, you should see a dentist for an adjustment, reline or in some cases for new dentures.

Dentures like our own teeth need to be cleaned well at least once a day. They need to be taken out at night and put into a glass of water. This rests your mouth and gums, just like taking of your shoes before you go to bed, and allows the mouth to relax.