You’re Never Too Old to Clean Up Your Dental Health

Tips to Healthier Aging

Oral care is an important part of our kupuna’s health.

The mouth plays a big part in our daily lives. It houses the organs for taste as well as for breaking down the foods we eat.

It is also important in allowing us to communicate with our loved ones.

Seeing a dentist for a regular cleaning and checkup is very important, but as we age, this practice often falls down our list of priorities.

Common problems with oral health encountered in the aging population center around the teeth and gums.

A lot of times, teeth can become discolored from what we eat or drink.

Some people are more prone to having dental caries and plaques too.

If left untreated, tooth problems such as these can lead to surgery and extraction.

If a lot of teeth need to be removed, your kupuna may have gapes in their mouths, which can affect the way they chew food and make enjoying regular meals difficult.

It also affects their confidence.

Smile – a regular dental routine can help prevent tooth loss and gum disease.

If they are conscious of their teeth loss, they could begin to shy away from socializing. Lack of socialization in older adults has been shown to affect their memory and also cause depression.

Getting dentures is not an option everyone has. Dentures can be expensive, and some individuals complain that they don’t feel like the natural thing.

Dentures also can be too tight, making mealtime a painful experience.

A receding gum line can cause previously fitted dentures to become loose and fall out when speaking or chewing meals.

Gums can recede because of decreased blood and nerve supply to the area where a tooth used to be. Stimulation from opposing tooth surfaces on the gum can also cause them to recede.

Whatever the cause, when dentures are too tight or too loose and not fitted just right, they end up not being used.

The best thing to do is to have a regular routine in taking care of your teeth, mouth and gums.

It is important to brush regularly and floss after meals to remove food debris.

Be sure to rinse with a gentle mouthwash too.

This regimen will help keep bacteria away and keep not just your teeth but also your gums healthy.

If you have dentures, be sure to check that they fit well, and make sure to clean them properly to prevent transmission of bacteria.

Quitting smoking and decreasing your alcoholic beverage intake is also helpful, as it decreases your risk for gum disease, tooth decay and also decreases your risk of developing oral cancers.

Most importantly, visit your dentist at least once a year to have regular checkups.

Are you having problems with seeing a dentist because of insurance coverage or cost? Community health centers have dentists who provide low-cost care.

Some examples include Aloha Medical Mission and Kalihi Palama Health Center on Oahu, and Hoola Lahui on Kauai.

Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician for more resources or questions about your oral health.



Published on: May 13, 2019