Because our bodies become more vulnerable as we age, decay, infections and bacteria that occur in our mouths can grow into serious problems that impact overall health.
Medications can create dry mouth. Dry mouth can also be part of the aging process. Saliva protects against tooth decay and controls bacteria. A dry mouth becomes very acidic, which leads to more tooth decay and gum disease.
Arthritis limits dexterity and creates transportation and mobility issues. Arthritis can make brushing and flossing difficult. Poor oral health can increase the risk for diabetes, pneumonia, and infections elsewhere in the body and strokes. The Centers for Disease Control offers a checklist for seniors to maintain good oral health that includes:
- Drink Fluoridated water and use fluoride toothpaste to protect against tooth decay.
- Brush and floss regularly to reduce dental plaque and prevent periodontal disease.
- See your dentist regularly, even if you wear dentures and have no natural teeth.
- Avoid tobacco and limit alcohol to lower risk of oral and throat cancers.
- If you have a dry mouth, drink plenty of water and chew sugarless gum. Avoid sweetened beverages.