Aging increases the prevalence of systemic health problems that often affect the mouth, increasing the risk of oral health problems in older adults. According to the NIDCR, 54% of adults aged 75 and over have less than 21 remaining teeth, and the proportion rises to 80% for people living in poverty. Maintaining good oral health as you age is an essential aspect of overall well-being and quality of life. Unfortunately, access to dental care is a challenge for many seniors because Medicare does not cover routine dental checkups for retirees.
Memory loss, physical disabilities, and lack of reliable transportation are other main reasons older people don’t visit dentists, leading to poor oral health. Fortunately, you can maintain good oral health throughout retirement if you follow the right steps. In addition to buying products that help whiten your teeth, here are some considerations for providing dental care as you age.
Prioritize dental visits
As you age, the tissues in your mouth thin and saliva production decreases, increasing the risk of infections. Your teeth also become weak and your sense of taste diminishes. These age-related dental health issues make chewing difficult and meals less enjoyable. With this in mind, favor dental check-ups at least twice a year.
You will also want to find a reputable dental hospital that offers emergency services. A emergency dental hospital provides a variety of dental services, such as restorative resin fillings, tooth extraction, replacement of broken dentures, and emergency root canal. Remember that as an elderly person you will need emergency dental care to protect the integrity of your oral health in case you have a severe toothache or an accident resulting in bleeding gums or loose teeth.
Buy dental insurance plans
Providing dental care can be expensive in retirement. If you received dental benefits from your employer, it may be difficult to have extra funds to take care of your teeth after you stop working. Now, with retirement looming, you need to figure out how you will cover your dental bills. Retirees can pay for their dental care in several ways. You can opt for individual plans, Medicare Advantage, dental discount plans, or self-insurance. Each option has its pros and cons, so consider your choices carefully to make sure they fit your dental health needs and budget.
Don’t forget to brush and floss
A simple chore like brushing your teeth, especially in hard-to-reach areas, becomes tedious with age. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t brush or floss. Your dentist will recommend different toothbrushes suitable for the elderly and teach you how to use them. There are also a variety of flossing products including interdental cleaners, floss holders, and straps to help you get a grip while flossing.
A healthy mouth is the key to good communication skills, a beautiful smile and self-confidence. But as you age, the risk of gum disease, tooth loss and other oral infections increases. For these reasons, schedule regular dental appointments, purchase dental health coverage, and prioritize brushing and flossing.