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Question & Answers on Oral Health for Senior Citizens
Q. Do I still need to get regular checkups if I do not have any dental problems?
YES! Older adults are at greater risk for getting cavities, gum disease and mouth cancer and these may not cause any pain or discomfort until they are advanced.
Dental checkups are recommended for everyone, twice a year.
Q. What if I lost all of my natural teeth, do I still need to get regular checkups?
YES! People with no natural teeth are at equal risk for oral cancer and gum disease. Those wearing dentures need to have their mouth and their dentures checked at least once a year.
Q. I still have most of my teeth; how can I keep them for the rest of my life?
YES! Older adults need to keep their mouths clean by regular brushing and flossing and visiting the dentist twice a year .
Q. Does your mouth change as you get older?
YES! Among other things, as we age, the nerves in our teeth can become smaller, making our teeth less sensitive to cavities or other problems.
Q. Are older people more likely to lose their teeth than younger people?
YES! Older adults are less likely to feel pain in their teeth which may dissuade them from getting care until it is too late to save the tooth.
Cavities & Fluoride
Q. Can older people still get cavities?
Q. How does this happen?
Exposed root surfaces and older fillings are prone to cavities. Medications that dry the mouth and their general preferance of softer, sweeter foods put them at greater risk of getting cavities.
Old fillings sometimes break down and pave the way for cavities.
Q. What about fluoride, how can it help older adults?
YES! Natural teeth can always be helped by fluoride
Q. What is periodontal disease? Can older adults get it?
YES! Periodontal disease is an infection of your gums.Everyone with natural teeth is at risk .
Q. How can I prevent getting periodontal disease?
You can prevent periodontal disease by:
Brushing your teeth and gums daily.
Regularly scheduling dental check ups and following instructions of your dentist.
Q. What are the symptoms of gum disease?
Symptoms may be difficulty in eating, bad breath and pain.
Severe gum disease has also been linked several systemic illnesses like pneumonia in long-term care patients, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Q. My mouth feels very dry, is that because of my age ?
NO! Having a dry mouth is NOT a result of aging, but is often due to medication.
Q. What can I do in the case of a dry mouth?
Check with your dentist or physician to find out the cause of your dry mouth and treat it accordingly.
Q. What other options do I have to help in this condition?
You have several options to help dry mouth:.
Sip water throughout the day.
Have sugar-free gum or candies.
Q.Are older citizens at risk for mouth cancer?
YES! As with many other cancers, older adults are at a higher risk of getting mouth cancer than younger people.
Risk of getting mouth cancer is more likely if they smoke, heavy drinkers or are repeatedly exposed to the sunlight.
Q. How do I know if I have mouth cancer? Does it cause pain?
Mouth cancer can be a red or white patch or any change in your mouth that lasts for more than 2 weeks. Regular dental visits for a complete oral examination are very important as all oral cancers in initial stages are painless and go unnoticed.
Q. What if I think I have cancer in my mouth?
See your dentist immediately to get a thorough oral cancer examination.
The earlier mouth cancer is detected and treated, the better the prognosis will be.
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