Aging increases the prevalence of systemic health conditions that often affect the mouth, increasing the risk of oral health issues in older adults. According to the NIDCR, 54% of adults aged 75 and above have less than 21 teeth remaining, and the proportion rises to 80% for individuals living in poverty. Maintaining proper oral health as you get old is a vital aspect of overall well-being and quality of life. Unfortunately, access to dental care is a challenge for many seniors because Medicare doesn't cover routine dental check-ups for retirees.
Memory loss, physical disabilities, and lack of reliable transportation are other key reasons seniors don’t visit dentists, resulting in poor oral health. Fortunately, you can maintain good oral health throughout retirement if you follow the right steps. Besides buying products that help whiten your teeth, here are a few considerations for dental health care provision as you age.
Prioritize Dental Visits
As you grow old, the tissues in your mouth become thinner and saliva production decreases, thus increasing the risk of infections. Your teeth also become weak and your sense of taste decreases. These age-related dental health conditions make chewing difficult and eating meals less enjoyable. With this in mind, prioritize dental check-ups at least twice every 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, like restorative resin fillings, teeth extraction, replacing broken dentures, and emergency root canal. Remember, as a senior, you’ll need emergency dental care to protect the integrity of your oral health in case you experience a severe toothache or accident that causes bleeding gums or loose teeth.
Buy Dental Insurance Plans
Dental care provision can be expensive when you retire. If you've been receiving dental health benefits from your employer, it may be difficult to have additional funds to care for your teeth once you stop working. Now, with retirement pending, you need to determine how you’ll cover your dental care bills. There are several ways retirees can pay for dental care. You can opt for individual plans, Medicare Advantage, dental discount plans, or self-insure. Each option has its pros and cons, so research your choices carefully to ensure it fits your dental health needs and budget.
Don’t Forget to Brush and Floss
A simple chore like brushing teeth, especially those hard to reach areas, becomes tedious when you age. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t brush your teeth or floss. Your dentist will recommend different toothbrushes fit for seniors, and they'll teach you how to use them. There are also a variety of dental floss products, including interdental cleaners, floss holders, and straps to help you get a grip when flossing.
A healthy mouth is key to good communication abilities, a beautiful smile, and self-confidence. But as you get older, the risk of gum diseases, tooth loss, and other oral infections increase. For these reasons, schedule regular dentist appointments, buy dental health coverage, and prioritize brushing and flossing.