Aging increases the prevalence of systemic health problems that often affect the mouth, increasing the risk of oral health problems in older adults. According to the NIDCR, 54% of adults age 75 and older have fewer than 21 teeth remaining, and the proportion rises to 80% for people living in poverty. Maintaining proper oral health as you age is a vital aspect of overall wellness and quality of life. Unfortunately, access to dental care is a challenge for many seniors because Medicare doesn’t cover routine dental checkups for retirees.
Memory loss, physical disabilities, and lack of reliable transportation are other key reasons older people do not visit the dentist, resulting in poor oral health. Fortunately, you can maintain good oral health in retirement if you take the right steps. In addition to shopping for products to help whiten your teeth, here are some considerations for dental health care as you age.
Prioritize dental visits
As you age, the tissues in your mouth become thinner and saliva production decreases, increasing your risk of infection. Their teeth also weaken and their sense of taste diminishes. These age-related dental health conditions make chewing difficult and eating less enjoyable. With this in mind, prioritize dental checkups at least twice a year.
You’ll also want to find a reputable dental hospital that offers emergency services. An emergency dental hospital provides a variety of dental services, such as restorative resin fillings, tooth extraction, replacement of broken dentures, and emergency endodontics. Remember, as an older adult, you will need emergency dental care to protect the integrity of your oral health in the event you experience a severe toothache or an accident that results in bleeding gums or loose teeth.
Buy dental insurance plans
Providing dental care can be expensive when you retire. If you have been receiving dental health benefits from your employer, it may be difficult to have additional funds to care for your teeth once you leave work. Now, with retirement pending, you need to determine how you will cover your dental care bills. There are several ways retirees can pay for dental care. You can choose individual plans, Medicare Advantage, dental discount plans, or self-insurance. Each option has its pros and cons, so carefully research your options to make sure it fits your dental needs and budget.
Don’t forget to brush and floss
A simple task like brushing your teeth, especially those hard-to-reach areas, becomes tedious with age. This does not mean that you should not brush or floss your teeth. Your dentist will recommend different senior-friendly toothbrushes and teach you how to use them. There are also a variety of floss products, including interdental cleaners, floss holders, and straps to help you grip the floss.
A healthy mouth is key to good communication skills, a beautiful smile and self-confidence. But as you age, your risk of gum disease, tooth loss, and other oral infections increases. For these reasons, schedule regular dental appointments, purchase dental health coverage, and prioritize brushing and flossing.