As we age, we naturally become more concerned about our overall health. But what does aging mean for your oral health?
With time, our bodies change in many ways. Unfortunately, some of those changes can lead to an increased risk of developing health problems like diabetes, arthritis, and high blood pressure. The good news is that when it comes to oral health, you have more control over your well-being than you may think.
So, what should you do if you want to maintain a healthy smile as you age? Here are some tips:
Let’s talk about what happens to your teeth
As you grow older, the nerves in your tooth become smaller, which means they are less sensitive to dental problems like cavities and gum disease. This can make it more difficult to identify these problems early on. If you don’t visit your dentist regularly, These problems can go undetected until it’s too late.
Age also increases our vulnerability to cavities. Why? One common cause of this is dry mouth. It is not a direct result of aging, but rather a side effect of medications used for certain illnesses, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. These medications affect the production of saliva, which makes your mouth more dry and prone to tooth decay.
3 common dental problems in older patients
- Gum disease. For patients of all ages, gum disease often goes unnoticed until it’s too advanced. This condition causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, exposing them and allowing bacteria to accumulate below the gum line. With time, this leads to a serious infection known as periodontitis.
- Tooth loss. When cavities and gum disease become too advanced, they can lead to tooth loss (and even bone loss). In that case, you may need implant-supported prosthetics or a denture to replace your missing teeth.
- Pulpitis. Older age and cavities put you at a higher risk of infection of the pulp (the soft tissue in the center of your teeth). When detected, this issue can be treated with root canal therapy. But left untreated for too long, this too results in tooth loss.
Tips to maintain your oral health as you age
#1 Acquire healthy oral care habits
To keep your mouth healthy as you age, you should:
- Brush twice a day with a toothbrush that has soft bristles. If you have trouble brushing and flossing because of arthritis, use an electric toothbrush.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Drink water to keep your mouth hydrated. Drinking plenty of tap water also helps prevent tooth decay.
#2 Get regular dental checkups
Regular dental checkups are one of the most important things that you can do to maintain good oral health.
Getting a professional cleaning and exam every 6 months will help both treat existing issues and prevent potential problems from occurring in the first place. You may also be able to save money by avoiding the need for additional treatments in the future.
#3 Watch what you eat
- Avoid foods that are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. These include candy, cakes, cookies, and pies. Sugars can weaken teeth, making them more prone to cavities.
- Limit coffee and sodas. They can irritate your mouth and also cause erosion of your enamel.
- Eat vegetables and fruits that contain antioxidants such as spinach, tomatoes, oranges, and apples.
#4 Limit alcohol and tobacco use
Smoking puts you at greater risk for different types of cancer (including mouth cancer) and may increase problems with gum disease.
Smoking also worsens tooth decay and makes you more prone to tooth loss. The chemicals in cigarettes make it harder for the body to repair damage caused by cavity-causing bacteria.
If you’ve been smoking for years, the sooner you stop, the better your mouth and overall health will be!
The secret to keeping your teeth healthy as you age
Many think that losing your teeth is a natural part of aging, but that’s not necessarily true. You can keep your smile as young as you want by following simple dental care habits.
As with any other part of your body, good hygiene is the first step toward keeping your teeth healthy. Be sure to brush at least twice a day and floss daily. Additionally, see your dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings every six months. Your dentist will be able to spot signs of gum disease or cavities early on so that it doesn’t lead to larger problems down the road.
Keeping your teeth healthy throughout your life is as simple as following these tips! If you want to learn more about how to take the best care of your teeth and enjoy a healthy smile for many years, our team at Sedation Dentistry of Sunny Isles is here for you. Call now at (786) 629-1503 or book an appointment online.