Although oral health concerns such as tooth decay may be prevalent at any age, the older you get the greater the likelihood for complications with one’s oral health. Due to many factors such as other health issues that may arise, it is more important than ever to maintain a solid brushing and flossing regimen to maintain proper oral health.
However, for many reasons, seniors and those with disabilities may find that maintaining a traditional brushing and flossing routine can be difficult and problematic. Whether you are in this situation yourself or are caring for an aging adult, here we will discuss strategies for continuing to care for your teeth well into the later years for the best oral health possible.
As is the case at any age, the buildup of plaque that develops from food and bacteria on one’s teeth can lead to tooth decay and gum disease if teeth and gums are not cared for properly. And as is true at any age, the primary frontal attack on this plaque and bacteria buildup is daily brushing. If brushing has become problematic due to issues related to aging, here are a few tips to help you maintain healthy habits for the long term:
- Consider Using an Electric Toothbrush: Electric toothbrushes do much of the work for you. If you have limited hand strength and grip, an electric toothbrush can help you maintain proper brushing without the amount of strength required for traditional toothbrushes. Also, be sure the toothbrush you choose has soft bristles and is easy to hold.
- Toothpaste is Optional: If the taste of toothpaste is challenging, or if you simply struggle with spitting and swallowing, consider simply brushing teeth with minimal paste or not at all. Don’t let toothpaste be the reason why a brushing routine is limited. At most, use a pea-sized amount, but the most important part is simply brushing away plaque and food from the surface of the teeth.
- Consider an Alternate Location: You do not have to necessarily stand in front of the bathroom sink to brush your teeth. If a more comfortable position is necessary, consider sitting at the kitchen table with a bowl and cup of water to conduct your brushing regimen.
As people age, one particular concern in regard to oral health may be the challenges related to flossing. This often occurs due to the limited amount of dexterity one has in their hands. Another reason might be the presence of bridges for tooth replacement. If one of these is of particular concern, there are actually a number of flossing solutions to consider, such as:
- Interdental Brushes- Interdental brushes are small, pointed disposable brushes that can fit between teeth and can be used in lieu of traditional dental floss to access areas between your teeth and under your gum line. They can be much easier to hold and navigate within your mouth than traditional floss, making it a great solution for those with dexterity concerns.
- Flossing Threaders: Floss threaders helps to direct floss through bridges on one’s teeth when traditional floss does not have a clear pathway. These floss threaders help individuals continue to use traditional floss even when bridges are present, and without a great deal of dexterity to navigate.
- Water Flossers: As an alternative to any actual flossing products, water flossers shoot a stream of water in between teeth and under the gum line to clean these areas properly. Water flossers are simple and easy to use, making them a great solution for any dental patient with limited strength or dexterity.
- Floss Picks: Similar to interdental brushes, floss picks are disposable flossers that are easier to use than traditional floss and can be used with one hand.
In addition to these tips, consider asking our dental office about fluoride treatments that may help protect you against tooth decay, which can serve as an extra layer of protection for your teeth.
We at Cooper Family Dentistry are here as your partner in oral health from early age through the golden years. If you have any concerns about your oral health, please call our office so we can help you. To schedule an appointment, call our friendly office staff at 501-982-7547 or, for your convenience, fill out an appointment request here.