Many seniors wrongly believe an increase in mouth and tooth issues is just a natural part of aging. In reality, your age, in and of itself, has little to no impact on your oral health. However, certain medical conditions such as arthritis can make it more difficult for seniors to regularly brush and floss. Additionally, many commonly prescribed medications for conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can lead to dry mouth, a condition which can leave you more prone to developing oral health issues.

Maintaining good oral hygiene is important no matter what your age, particularly for seniors. Here are 5 reasons seniors should practice good oral hygiene:

  1. Reduces Your Risk of Gum Disease. There are a number of factors that can contribute the development of gum disease including smoking, use of chew tobacco, an unhealthy diet, poor fitting bridges or dentures and disease like diabetes. However, the most common cause is severe plaque build-up. If left untreated, gum disease can increase your risk of tooth loss and has even been connected to other health issues in seniors, including stroke, heart attack and other heart related diseases.
  2. May Reduce Risk of Developing Pneumonia. Studies have shown a direct link between poor oral hygiene and the development of pneumonia. While more research needs to be done to understand why, several studies have shown that those who experience oral issues, including gum problems, are more likely to experience severe complications from pneumonia, an illness that can often be deadly for seniors.
  3. Wards Off Tooth Decay. Diets high in sugary foods and a natural decrease in salvia production as we age all contribute to a build-up of sugar and acid in the mouth. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to cavities, which in turn can lead to pain, infection and even tooth loss.
  4. Reduces Chance of Developing Receding Gum Lines. Gum recession is a process in which the gums gradually shrink away from the teeth. While some gum recession may be hereditary, it is most commonly caused by poor dental hygiene. Overtime it can lead to tooth sensitivity, and if left untreated may increase your likelihood of developing gum disease or losing teeth.
  5. Makes Eating More Enjoyable. The pain that can come as a result of poor oral hygiene and the loss of teeth can make eating more difficult and less enjoyable. Overtime, this can cause a decrease in both desire to eat and overall appetite, leading to unhealthy weight loss and even malnutrition.

Maintaining good oral hygiene doesn’t have to be complicated. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends seniors follow the same general oral hygiene practices they recommend for other age groups including brushing and flossing at least two times per day, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouth wash once or twice a day. Additionally, seniors should receive dental exams and cleanings twice per year and address any changes in gum health, including bleeding gums, or tooth sensitivity with their dentist as they occur.

Senior Living at Western Home Communities

At Western Home Communities we offer a range of services and amenities including on-site wellness and fitness programs, on-site gyms, nutritious community dining options, regular social events and more. Our goal is to ensure every senior has access to the things they need to live an active, healthy, independent life, no matter what their age.

Have you or a loved one considered making the move to a senior living community? Contact Western Home Communities today for more information and to set up a tour.