Getting a little older doesn't mean that dental hygiene becomes less important. In fact, flossing helps prevent cavities, which can lead to further tooth loss and the need for dentures in later life.
Some aspects of oral care are particularly important for older adults:
- Dry mouth: Dry mouth (xerostomia) can become more common with age. Many medications, including anti-hypertensive and anti-depressant medications, can cause dry mouth. And if you are receiving radiation therapy, that can contribute to dry mouth, too.
- Fillings: While decay around old an dental filling is possible regardless of one’s use of fluoride, older adults who grew up without fluoride may be more likely to develop tooth decay around older fillings.
- Periodontal (gum) disease: Periodontal disease often goes undetected in older adults, especially those who do not see a dentist regularly. With age, the gums tend to recede, so it's advisable to see a dental professional to check if the recession and shifting of the teeth are due to periodontal disease.
- Dentures: If you have partial dentures, don't neglect your remaining teeth-keep up a regular brushing and flossing routine to prevent further tooth loss. If you have full dentures, you still need to see a dentist regularly to check for proper fit.
And if you have trouble managing a manual toothbrush or standard dental floss, there are products designed for easier use by older adults. Using an electric flossing device means that you don't need to struggle with breaking off a length of floss and wrapping it around your fingers.
Good oral care is a lifelong habit, and with very little effort, you can preserve a beautiful smile throughout adulthood.