5 Oral Care Need-to-knows for Aging


Recognize and Treat Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a big problem with seniors. About one out of every three adults over age 65 suffers from dry mouth [source: WDS]. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like: You don't produce enough saliva to keep your mouth moist. Dry mouth might not seem like a big deal, but it can make it hard to swallow, speak and eat. Saliva is important for our oral health. It helps wash away the food particles and bacteria that can cause tooth decay or gum problems.

Older people are more prone to dry mouth because they tend to be on more medications and treatments that cause dry mouth. For example, medications for health issues like Parkinson's disease, depression, anxiety, allergies, obesity, hypertension and asthma all cause dry mouth. Cancer treatments involving the head and neck also lead to dry mouth. If you suffer from dry mouth, consider the following remedies:

  • sipping water throughout the day (and avoiding alcoholic beverages, which can dehydrate)
  • sucking on hard candies
  • artificial saliva (which can be prescribed by a doctor)
  • avoiding smoking and caffeine

Your dentist may also have treatment options for dry mouth.