Older Americans make up a growing percentage of the population. As we continue to live longer, the need for proper oral care is vital to maintain natural teeth and enhance the quality of life. Currently, over 60 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 65 have some or all of their natural teeth.
Many people think that conditions such as toothaches, tooth loss and dry mouth happen naturally as you grow old. The truth is, most of these conditions result from diseases of the teeth such as periodontal disease and dental caries or side effects of medications. We can all keep our teeth longer by maintaining good oral health.
What problems most affect the dental health of the elderly?
Limits on insurance and money to afford dental treatment
Inability to get to dental offices
Shortage of dentists trained and willing to see the elderly
Side effects of medications
Recurrent decay around older fillings
Decay at the gum line where gums have receded
Lack of appreciation of oral health
What can I do to maintain my oral health?
Drink water and use toothpastes and rinses that have fluoride in them
Brush at least twice a day and floss daily
Get an electric toothbrush and flosser or use handles or other adaptations to make brushing and flossing easier
See a dentist regularly
Don't smoke or use smokeless tobacco products
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
Check for side effects of medicines and report them to your doctor/dentist
Make sure to get dental care before having surgery or treatment that may cause problems with your oral health
Caregivers should learn how to take care of the teeth of those who are not able to take care of their own teeth
Any changes in dental health and overall health should be reported to both your dentist and primary care doctor
Department of Health - Division of Dental Health 109 Governor St., 9th Flr., Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: (804) 864-7775 • FAX: (804) 864-7783