Five Dental Care Tips For Retirement-Age Adults

As you continue to age, you need to be increasingly careful with your health—and your dental health in particular. Retirement-age adults are at an increased risk for cavities, gum disease, and lost teeth when compared to younger adults. However, you can help mitigate these risks by taking great care of your teeth and following these five tips.

1. Remember to brush every morning and night.

Once you retire, you may not have the same set morning routine that you had for years while you worked. Without such a routine, it may be tempting to skip brushing your teeth in the morning. However, this can quickly lead to decay and gum disease. As you sleep at night, the bacteria in your mouth reproduce and release acid, and brushing in the morning removes these bacteria so they don't continue damaging your teeth all day.

Try to keep getting up at the same time each day, even though you no longer have to go to work. When you do get up, follow a specific routine that includes brushing your teeth. When tooth brushing is a part of your routine, you're less likely to forget!

2. Invest in a water flosser.

Flossing your teeth can become increasingly difficult if you develop arthritis in your hands or lose some of your dexterity. However, failing to floss can lead to cavities between the teeth as well as gum disease. Instead of flossing, purchase yourself a water flosser. This is a tool that shoots a powerful stream of water into the areas between your teeth. It does the job of flossing—removing plaque and debris from between your teeth—but is much easier to use and is also gentler on your gums.

3. Watch your coffee intake.

Once you're retired and home more often, you may get into the habit of slowly sipping coffee all day, rather than quickly drinking it before you head out the door. This is not good for your teeth. Slowly introducing your teeth to the sugar in your coffee all day will allow bacteria to replicate and cause cavities. So, when you do drink coffee, be mindful of how long it takes to drink it—try to drink it all at once, rather than sipping it slowly. Also, consider switching to an artificial sweetener like stevia instead of putting sugar in your coffee.

4. Report problems to your dentist ASAP.

If you have any soreness in your gums, sensitivity in your teeth, or other oral health problems, do not wait and hope they will get better on their own. Instead, contact your dentist immediately. Problems like decay and gum disease can progress very rapidly when you are older, so the sooner you seek treatment, the better. Getting the problem treated now may allow you to keep your tooth, whereas if you were to wait a few months, you may need to have the tooth removed.

5. Stay away from overly crunchy foods.

Often, as people age, their tooth enamel becomes thinner and more fragile. So while you may have been able to eat crunchy nuts and candy when you were younger without an issue, you should avoid these foods as a retirement-age adult. Also avoid opening packages with your teeth, as this is another common way for older adults to crack and break their teeth. 

Older age does not have to mean poor dental health. If you follow the dental care tips above and see your dentist on a regular basis, you can keep your teeth in good shape and hopefully avoid the need for dentures. To learn more, speak with your dentist or hygienist.