It’s often said that in people’s latter years, they become more like children in many ways. Forgetfulness often affects personal hygiene habits. Loss of physical dexterity can also effect oral hygiene. Just as a child doesn’t brush their teeth very well, or forgets to brush their teeth before going to bed, so it seems that many Seniors begin to follow the same pattern, even in their sixties. I see this sad scenario repeat itself nearly every day as I examine my dental patients.
As oral hygiene declines, dental plaque increases. Gum tissues that were healthy and firmly attached around the teeth and bones now become horribly inflamed, causing deep periodontal pockets to form around the necks of the teeth. Soon thereafter, people who haven’t had a cavity in years, now have multiple sites of decay deep around the roots of their teeth or around the margins of their crowns. These seniors, coping financially with retirement, cannot afford to restore their teeth and have no help from dental insurance that they lost upon retiring.
Here are a few of my suggestions on how to cope with dental disease in your latter years:
- See your dentist’s hygienist more often, maybe 3-4 times per year.
- Purchase an electric toothbrush if your dexterity is lagging or if arthritis is affecting your hands.
- Use a fluoride mouth rinse every night before bedtime.
- Control the amount of sugar in your diet.
- Use dental hygiene products that help with dry mouth syndrome.
- Anticipate and plan for dental care in your budget.
- In cases of Dementia or Alzheimer’s, include in the instructions to your family, that they take you to a dentist for cleaning every 2-3 months, and also see to it that someone brushes your teeth daily.
- Last of all, but very important, if your teeth are in very poor condition, and you have lost many of them already, a possible, practical solution is to have all of your remaining teeth removed and be fitted for dentures that are held in place by implants.
- Being in your latter years and having an abscessed tooth removed when you have many serious medical conditions can actually be life-threatening.
With resolve and good planning, you should be able to avoid the heartache of pain and suffering from your teeth in your latter years.