Maintaining Oral Health as We Age

By on July 26, 2019
Oral Health

It used to be the standard for our parents and grandparents to lose their teeth and wear dentures. Today with the help of advances in dentistry, and increased awareness of oral health, it is entirely possible to keep all of your teeth.

Of course, aging naturally brings some added risks for oral health, but there are ways to keep up with and manage these changes. Here are a few to focus on.

Form Healthy Habits

It is never too late to pick up healthy oral hygiene habits. Taking the proper prevention tactics is much less time consuming and inexpensive than the treatments needed to restore your smile. The following are all beneficial habits to avoid complications down the road:

  • Use a soft-bristled electric toothbrush. Electric brushes do a better job of reaching in the nooks and crannies of our teeth. Another plus is that they are more accessible for people with arthritis and other disabilities that affect mobility.
  • Experts from Hamptons Dental strongly advise visiting your dentist for regular cleanings and exams every 6 months, or more often if recommended by your provider. Cleanings help remove tartar, a build-up of decay that cannot be removed with brushing alone. Also, at exams, your dentist can provide oral cancer screenings and spot any issues early on.
  • Tobacco can lead to oral cancer, tooth decay, and staining. If you use tobacco, quitting can be one of the best preventative measures you can take for your oral and overall health.
  • Avoid damaging beverages such as coffee and alcohol. Rinse your mouth out with water after drinking any staining or acidic beverages.
  • When thinking about oral health you may not think much about diet aside from avoiding sugar. A healthy, balanced diet high in calcium is not only beneficial for strengthening bones but teeth as well.

Stay Hydrated

Many medications list dry mouth as a side effect. This may seem like an inconsequential, yet annoying issue, but it can actually lead to oral health complications. The mouth needs to produce saliva to clean out food debris and prevent decay. A lack of saliva production can lead to cavities and eventual tooth loss.

Luckily, there are ways to combat this problem. Replacing soda and coffee with water, staying hydrated, and chewing sugar-free gum all reduces the number of bacteria in the mouth.

Stay Alert of Gum Health

Without a strong foundation, a house will fall apart and crumble. Think of the gums like the foundation for your teeth. With a growing number of doctor appointments, it may be difficult to keep up with dentist appointments, but untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis (a serious gum infection).

Keeping up with deep cleanings and gum therapy, along with daily brushing and flossing, slows down the progression of perio disease. Other risk factors for gum disease are:

  • Diabetes (higher risk of infection)
  • Tooth loss (teeth inward toward the gap and leave an area of gums difficult to reach)

Replacing missing teeth with implants or bridges prevents teeth from drifting. Implants bring the added benefit of preserving the bone underneath the gum line.

Maintain Dental Work

Unfortunately, dental work is not guaranteed for life. Fillings, crowns, and bridges may eventually need replacing. Keeping up with broken crowns and loose fillings can help prevent more severe complications. Appliances such as partials, dentures, and night guards should be cleaned daily.

Bottom Line

Being proactive about your oral health rather than waiting until there is an emergency is a key to maintaining a beautiful mouth with age. Teeth will naturally yellow and wear down over time, but your teeth do not have to fall out. It is completely possible to keep your natural teeth for your entire life with these simple reminders!

 

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Maintaining Oral Health as We Age