Gripping a toothbrush can be difficult for those with arthritis or shoulder problems. Sometimes the solution is as simple as switching to a toothbrush with a wider handle. Others might need an electric toothbrush, which not only has a wider handle, but also does some of the work for you. If you prefer a manual toothbrush, you can also cut slits into a tennis ball and push your toothbrush's handle through the tennis ball or wrap something (such as a washcloth) around the handle and secure it to make the handle larger and easier to grip.
Gums that bleed when you brush usually mean that there is plaque buildup on your teeth and that plaque buildup is inflaming your gums. This inflammation increases your risk of health issues including heart disease and Alzheimer's. It can also lead to loss of your teeth. What's the answer? Brush at least twice a day for at least two (2) minutes each time. Use floss or a small interdental brush to reach in between teeth once a day and use an antibacterial rinse after cleaning your teeth.
If you have bad breath, you may want to add cleaning your tongue twice a day to your oral hygiene regimen. You can buy tongue scrapers or just brush your tongue with your toothbrush after you've brushed your teeth. Be aware that chronic bad breath can be a symptom of a more serious issue, so if it persists, make an appointment with your dentist.
If your teeth are looking longer than they used to, you may have gum recession. Inflammation of the gums is one cause of recession but trauma from brushing too hard can be a culprit too. So be sure you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush (extra-soft bristled toothbrushes will work also) and imagine massaging, not scrubbing, your gums.
You can get cavities at any age. Dry mouth (caused by many medications) means less rinsing action on your teeth so food and plaque stay stuck to the teeth for a longer period of time. Gum recession exposes tooth roots to the oral environment. Tooth roots don't have as thick a covering as the enamel-covered top part of your tooth and can decay more quickly. Using fluoride consistently has been shown to reduce cavities. Most toothpastes contain fluoride. Your dentist may also recommend a fluoride rinse or a high-concentration prescription fluoride.
Speaking of dry mouth, the best way to combat it is to keep plenty of water on hand and to sip regularly throughout the day. Sugar-free gum is also a good way to fight the effects of dry mouth because it helps remove food particles and also encourages your saliva to flow.
As we age, we lose some of our taste buds which may lead to craving intense flavors, including sweets. If possible, try to limit your "sweet tooth" to once a day. The more times you expose your teeth to sugar, the more opportunities for mouth bacteria to create cavities.
*Note: The information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.