When it comes to aging, most of us pay close attention to our skin, joints, and cardiovascular health. But there’s one aspect of wellness that often gets overlooked: oral health. For older adults and their caregivers, understanding the intricacies of maintaining a healthy mouth is crucial. Here are seven surprising facts about older adult oral health that you might find surprising.
1. Dry Mouth Is Not a Normal Part of Aging
Contrary to popular belief, dry mouth is not an inevitable part of growing older. Often, it’s a side effect of medications. With over 400 commonly prescribed medications causing dry mouth, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider for an alternative or a remedy.
Research shows that there’s a strong correlation between gum disease and heart disease. Poor oral hygiene can lead to bacteria entering the bloodstream, affecting your heart.
Pro Tip: Regular flossing and brushing can go a long way in preventing gum disease.For those with limited mobility, electric toothbrushes and water flossers can be very helpful.
3. Oral Cancer Rates Increase With Age
Oral cancer isn’t often talked about, but it’s more common in older adults. Men are more likely than women to develop oral cancer. Regular dental check-ups are vital for early detection.
Pro Tip: During your next dental visit, request an oral cancer screening.
4. Cavities Aren’t Just for Kids
Adults are just as prone to cavities as children, especially those who have fillings or other dental restorations that can weaken with time.
Pro Tip: Besides brushing, consider using a fluoride rinse to strengthen your teeth.
5. Tooth Loss Is Not Inevitable
Losing teeth as you age is not a given. With proper oral care, adults can keep their natural teeth for a lifetime.
Pro Tip: Avoid smoking and limit sugary foods to maintain strong teeth and gums.
6. Dentures Require Care Too
If you do use dentures, remember that they also require regular cleaning to prevent gum disease.
Pro Tip: Soak dentures overnight in a mild denture solution and brush them before wearing.
7. Bad Breath Could Signal Underlying Issues
Persistent bad breath in older adults could be a sign of an underlying health issue, including digestive problems.
Pro Tip: If bad breath persists, you should consult both your dentist and primary care physician.
It’s More Than Just a Smile
Oral health isn’t just cosmetic—it’s a critical part of your overall well-being, no matter your age. Neglecting it can lead to much bigger problems down the road. So be proactive. Schedule that dental appointment you’ve been delaying and make daily oral care a non-negotiable in your routine. Your future self will thank you.
Disclaimer: The content in this blog post is meant for general informational purposes and should not be considered professional advice. While we strive for accuracy, we recommend consulting experts for specific guidance. We are not responsiblefor any decisions made based on this information.
Liz Craven, co-publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide with her husband Wes, combines personal experience and heartfelt dedication in her work. Their journey in eldercare began with a personal story—caring for Wes' grandmother, Mabel, who lived with Alzheimer's. This chapter in their lives not only highlighted the complexities of eldercare but also kindled a deep-seated passion to support others facing similar challenges. Since then, Liz and Wes have navigated caregiving three more times. These experiences have added layers of depth to their insights, allowing them to offer a blend of empathetic understanding and practical advice through the Sage Aging ElderCare Guide. Liz’s commitment to making eldercare more approachable and less daunting shines through in every piece of advice she offers, aiming to ease the caregiving journey for others.