Oral Health and Older Adults

Everyday wear and tear can take its toll on your teeth. This can be seen especially as you get older. Older adults may start to see a deterioration in their oral health, but teeth can last a lifetime if looked after properly.

According to the WHO, the global population is increasing at the annual rate of 1.7%, while the population of those over 65 years is increasing at a rate of 2.5%. With the population age increasing, it is important to look after your general health, and we think this starts with your oral hygiene.

There is a lot you can do to ensure the longevity of your teeth as you get older. We will discuss this in more detail below.

Oral Health Problems in Older Adults Include:

Dry mouth – as we get older the production of saliva reduces. We need this saliva to remove bacteria from the mouth and reduce the chances of getting gum disease.

Gum disease – older people are at higher risk of getting gum disease. This also means that the potential to lose teeth through cavities increases also.

Oral Cancer – there is an increase in chances of getting oral cancer as someone gets older.

Although these are more prevalent in older adults, being aware of these problems will help identify them and reduce any long-term effects. A good oral health routine can eliminate them completely.

Ireland and Older Adults

The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing that was carried out in Ireland in 2017 highlighted the following among older adults…

  • One in six (18%) of adults aged 54 years and over in Ireland has no natural teeth although most have dentures in place of teeth.
  • Prevalence of tooth loss increases with age, with 40% of those aged 75 years and over having no natural teeth compared to 7% of those aged 54 to 64 years.
  • Older adults who have lost their teeth are more likely to be current smokers than those who have retained them and the difference is particularly noted in those aged 54 to 64 years (40% versus 15%).
  • Overall, 6% of older adults report problems with everyday activities such as eating, speaking, or laughing because of issues with their mouth/teeth or dentures, while over a quarter of those with no teeth, with or without dentures experience difficulties with activities such as eating, smiling or speaking.

This highlights the effect poor oral health can have on a person as they get older, and how it can impact their daily life. We think it is important to mention ways to improve your chances of good oral health in older age. Keep reading for important tips that you can easily follow.

How to avoid losing teeth as you get older:

It is essential to take care of your teeth from a young age in preparation for older age. However, if you are late to the game, depending on the severity of deterioration in your mouth, you may be able to work with your dentist to improve your oral health. This along with the below suggestions may add years to your teeth.

If you are not including any of the following, we suggest adding these into your oral hygiene routine immediately to keep your teeth in tip-top shape:

  • See your dentist every 6 months at least.
  • If you have dentures, ensure they are fitted properly as these can cause long-term pain.
  • If you have dentures, make sure they are cleaned daily. It is also preferable to remove dentures at night, if possible.
  • Brush your teeth twice a day.
  • Use interdental brushes or floss once a day.
  • If you are a smoker, now is the time to quit.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Ensure to eat healthy foods, and avoid sugary food and drink as much as possible.

If you have any questions in relation to any of the information above, please get in touch. We understand that tasks can become more difficult as we progress through life, so we are happy to help in any way we can.

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