Today, the Connecticut State Dental Association (CSDA) reminds Connecticut residents of the importance of proper oral care for seniors during Older Americans Month.
“Oral health is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ve got to keep at it your whole life,” says CSDA President Dr. Michael Ungerleider.
“During May, when we recognize older Americans, we also urge people to understand the importance of oral care for this population,” says Dr. Ungerleider. “A critical part of aging is taking care of the body, including the mouth.” According to the CDC, only 62% of people over age 65 visited a dentist in the past year.
“There are misconceptions that people age out of certain oral diseases, but in fact it’s the opposite,” says Dr. Ungerleider. “As people age, their oral health is more at risk.” More than 70% of adults over the age of 65 have gum disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.
Common dental health challenges for older adults are root decay, tooth decay and denture care. Older people also need to be aware of possible oral side effects from medications and pay close attention to denture care.
“We recommend to older people, and to everyone for that matter, to drink lots of water,” said Dr. Ungerleider. “Many seniors taking medications get dry mouths, which can lead to cavities. Water and saliva wash away and neutralize acids in the mouth produced by bacteria that cause cavities. It’s a simple, but important trick.”
Other challenges to keeping a healthy mouth arise as people age and potentially lose dexterity and physical ability. For that, there are a number of easy fixes like electric toothbrushes and dental floss holders, as well as adaptive tools that can ease independent routine oral care.
“A timeless tip is to check in with your dentist if you have any questions or concerns,” added Dr. Ungerleider.
For more tips on senior dental health visit www.mouthhealthy.org/en/adults-over-60.
About the Connecticut State Dental Association
The Connecticut State Dental Association (CSDA) has approximately 2,300 members. As the trusted leader and voice for oral health care in Connecticut, the CSDA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1864. For more information about the CSDA, visit the Association's Web site at www.csda.com.