General Oral Health Advice for Older Adults
Visit your dentist for regular hygiene checkups. The dentist doesn't just look at your teeth, but at your whole mouth. That means that even patients who have no natural teeth and wear full dentures should have their mouth examined not only for signs of gum disease or oral cancer, but also for proper denture fit. A change in the fit of dentures could indicate gum disease or underlying bone loss.
Remember that cavities don't just happen in kids. Among the 95 percent of older adults who still have teeth, more than nine out of 10 have cavities. This includes about one-fourth who haven't received treatment for their decay.
Tell your dentist about any medical conditions, recent operations, allergies, and medications you may be taking, or changes to your medications. This will avoid any potential adverse interactions with the medications that your dentist may prescribe. Plus, more than 400 commonly used medications for common conditions like high blood pressure and depression can be the cause of dry mouth. A reduction of the flow of saliva increases the risk for oral disease.
Oral Care Advice for Denture-Wearers
Think about how your dentures fit. The tissues in the mouth change over time, and bone and gum ridges shrink. This can result in ill-fitting dentures that make eating uncomfortable or downright painful.
Nearly 50 million Americans wear dentures; the average denture-wearer gets his or her first set of dentures in their mid-50s. But while the American Dental Association recommends that dentures be replaced every five to seven years, many people keep the same set of dentures for much longer. So talk to your dentist about denture fit.
Use the correct amount of denture cream. If you experience discomfort or if you are using more than one tube of denture cream every three weeks, your dentures may not fit properly and should be evaluated. Your dentist can tell you if they need to be adjusted or replaced.
Consider your diet and nutrition. Wearing poorly fitted dentures can not only cause sores or pain in the mouth -- it can also prevent healthy eating. Research indicates that people with ill-fitting dentures have poorer nutrition than those with well-fitted dentures or natural teeth due to the difficulty they have in chewing foods, especially certain fruits and vegetables.
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