It was not too long ago that people thought of losing their natural teeth as a normal part of aging. Now, with more awareness on dental care, more and more of today’s older adults are able to keep their natural teeth longer than ever before.
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Dry mouth is a common cause of cavities in older adults. Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging, but it is a side effect of more than 500 medications used for asthma, allergies, hypertension, cholesterol, pain, anxiety, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. It’s important to tell your dentist about any medication you’re prescribed with. You may need necessary recommendations to relieve dry mouth and its effects.
Here are common recommendations from the ADA:
- Over-the-counter oral moisturizers and/or artificial saliva
- Discussing with your doctor if there’s a need to change medication or dosage
- Drinking more water. Carry a water bottle with you, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink
- Chewing sugar-free gum or lozenges to stimulate saliva flow
- Using humidifier to help keep moisture in the air
- Avoiding foods and beverages that irritate dry mouths, like coffee, alcohol, soft drinks, and acidic fruit juices
- Application of fluoride gel or varnish to protect your teeth from cavities
According to the American Cancer Society, the most recent 2017 estimate for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers in the US is approximately 49,670. The average age of most people diagnosed with these cancers is 62, but it can also occur in young people. Your dentist will check for signs of oral cancers during your regular visits. Early stages of oral cancer typically do not cause pain, that’s why regular dental check-ups are important.
Dental Expenses after Retirement
Most retirees are welcomed with a cold surprise that their medical insurance does not cover routine dental care.
Caring for a Disabled or Elderly Loved One
How can we help?
- Pay close attention to their diets
- Remind them to brush and floss their teeth regularly
- If they're having difficulty with brushing and flossing, take them to a dentist or hygienist for professional tips or a different approach
- Make sure they get to their dental appointments