Patch: 5 Ways Seniors Can Keep Their Teeth Healthy, Dental Center Opens

November 5, 2019

By: Dr. Karen Becerra, DDS MPH, CEO/Dental Director, Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center
By: Scatena Daniels, Patch Contributor

The stats are alarming: Nearly 1 in 5 seniors over the age of 65 have no teeth, 2 in 3 have gum disease, and 1 in 5 have untreated cavities. Dental health is a hidden health crisis for seniors in our community which has far-reaching impacts on their overall wellness.

Studies have shown there is also a significant link between poor oral health and diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory infections, malnutrition, and even social isolation. Lack of access to basic oral care can cause seniors to neglect their teeth – Medicare does not currently cover dental care. Additionally, most older adults take both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, many of which can cause dry mouth which can increase the risk of cavities.

At the Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center, we are dedicated to providing affordable, high-quality oral healthcare with comprehensive education, clinical and wellness services for seniors, enabling them to live healthy and productive lives.

To bring awareness to the importance of dental care for seniors, here are 5 ways for seniors to keep their dental health in check:

  1. Brush and floss daily – Many people brush regularly, but simply don’t brush enough for their teeth to stay clean. The ADA recommends brushing for at least two minutes, twice daily. Likewise, flossing needs to be done regularly. If you are having trouble with dexterity, consider putting a tennis ball on the end of a toothbrush or investing in an electric toothbrush or a water flosser to help with grip.
  2. Visit your dentist regularly – Like scheduling regular checkups with your primary care physician, going to the dentist is the single best thing you can do for your oral health. Need assistance with getting to the dentist? Ask a family member or friend to take you or look into a ride service like Lyft, Uber or GoGoGrandparent.
  3. Refrain from tobacco and alcohol – Smoking is a major cause of gum disease and mouth cancer, as is alcohol consumption. They can also lead to stained teeth and a myriad of other health problems.
  4. Eat and drink right – Many common foods and snacks are loaded with sugar. Eating foods with high levels of sugar can cause tooth decay. Nutritious foods are important for good general health and oral health. When available, drink fluoridated water or use fluoridated toothpaste.
  5. When you have pain, go to your dentist. Pain perception changes with age and putting off needed care could lead to tooth loss and costly reconstructive work.