Seniors’ Oral Health

Happy senior couple smilingIn a previous blog, we discussed the link between gum disease and heart disease. In the last decade, research points to the undeniable ties between oral health and overall health. For senior citizens, the topic of oral health is especially important.

Basically, it is highly recommended that oral health become a priority at any age. For senior citizens, it may be especially important. The standard minimum recommendation is to brush twice and day and floss at least once. Brushing should be at least for two minutes each time. This will help to loosen and remove plaque before it becomes tarter. Plaque is a soft, sticky film that attaches to the teeth due to the growth of bacteria. If not properly and thoroughly removed it will harden and become tarter, which is then harder to remove and may require more time in the dentist office with your dental hygienist.

Studies have shown that neither excessive pressure nor longer brushing times will add any benefits and may even harm your teeth and gums. So, use firm but not hard pressure and stick to the two minute time frame.

Equally important is flossing properly. The purpose of floss it to reach the areas of your teeth that your toothbrush cannot get to. If using the string floss is awkward, purchase the u-shaped flossers that are pre-loaded with string. With a little practice, they can provide a thorough cleaning between teeth. Be sure to floss below the gum line to remove the bacteria that may lead to gum disease. Your dental hygienist can show you the proper technique to use whether you choose string or the pre-loaded flossers. Do this at least once a day. If you only floss once it is recommended to floss just before bedtime.

Finally, be sure to rinse thoroughly with a mouthwash at the end. Some folks like to follow a simple sequence like: Brush, then rinse with water; Floss, then rinse with water a second time; Rinse with a recommended mouthwash for the final rinse.

Remember – as we get “long in the tooth” we want to keep those teeth as long as possible!