Good dental hygiene habits are important throughout your lifetime to maintain dental health and a healthy smile. As we age, certain oral health issues become require extra attention.
How To Maintain A Lifelong Healthy Smile
Although receding gums and tooth decay can occur at any age, dental professionals pay close attention to the natural wear and tear of their aging patients’ teeth. Of U.S. adults ages 65 and older, 66% have gum disease and 34% have lost 6 or more teeth to gum disease and tooth decay.
Weakening tooth enamel can cause tooth decay and cavities. Similarly, receding gums can leave root surfaces exposed, increasing the chances of root decay. Regularly brushing your teeth, gums, and exposed root surfaces with fluoride toothpaste can remove dental plaque and food debris and help strengthen teeth to prevent decay.
Gum disease infects the bone and tissues that surround the teeth and varies in severity. This condition begins as gingivitis with swollen, red, or bleeding gums. It can progress to periodontitis, which causes tissues to recede, bone to wear away, and teeth to loosen or even fall out. Your dentist can provide treatments so you can reverse the effects of gingivitis before the condition progresses to more serious problems.
Getting older does not necessarily cause your mouth to become dry. However, certain aging features — such as medications or chronic conditions — can increase your risk for dry mouth. And with a dry mouth also comes an increased risk for cavities. Your dentist can recommend methods for restoring moisture to your mouth, and you can also try working with your physician to find a medicine or dosage that doesn’t dry up your saliva.
Because of issues like gum recession and weakened enamel, tooth sensitivity can also become a problem as you age. If you experience sensitivity to hot, cold, sweet, or sour foods, try an anti-sensitivity toothpaste. If the problem persists, see your dentist, as the sensitivity might indicate a more serious condition, such as a cavity or a fractured tooth.
Even if you already require full or partial dentures, you should still prioritize your oral health. Follow all your dental professional’s instructions for caring for your dentures, including cleaning them daily, storing them in liquid overnight, and visiting the dentist regularly for signs of wear or damage. You also need to take care of your gums, brushing them before you insert your dentures, watching for signs of redness or swelling, and letting your dentist know immediately if your dentures are uncomfortable.
Loss of bone density in aging people is another common medical issue. When the bone density in the mouth decreases, teeth can become loose. Regular dental x-rays can help screen for osteoporosis. This is another reason to keep regular dental appointments as you age.
Because of these dental concerns, your teeth need extra attention as you age. By understanding the dental risks that come with aging, you and your dentist can work together to help prevent oral health problems. ASBA can also help you keep your teeth and gums healthy with Dental Plans that can provide comprehensive coverage for routine cleanings and check-ups and even cover periodontal care. Sign up for a plan now.