As we age, our oral health needs change. Proper dental care can help prevent serious health issues and allow you to keep your natural teeth longer. Here are some tips for maintaining good oral health as you get older.
Brush and Floss Regularly
Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once daily should be part of your regular oral care routine. Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Take your time brushing and flossing to remove plaque thoroughly. Plaque buildup can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.
Visit the Dentist Regularly
See your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Professional cleanings can remove stubborn tartar that you may miss with daily brushing and flossing. Your dentist can also check for signs of decay, infection, and other problems. The American Dental Association recommends dental cleanings twice per year.
Additional Dental Services
Some additional services your dentist may recommend as you get older include:
- X-rays to check for issues between teeth
- Fluoride treatments to strengthen enamel
- Sealants and fillings to repair cavities
- Mouthguards if you grind your teeth
- Treatment for dry mouth
Dry mouth becomes more common with age. A lack of saliva can increase your risk for cavities and gum disease. Your dentist may suggest using a saliva substitute or recommend ways to stimulate saliva production.
Watch for Signs of Oral Health Problems
Pay attention to signs of oral health issues. Contact your dentist if you experience:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Gums that pull away from teeth
- Loose permanent teeth
- Changes in your bite
- Mouth sores that won’t heal
- Pain or sensitivity when eating hot, cold, or sugary foods
These may indicate gingivitis, periodontitis, cavities, or other problems that are best addressed early. Left untreated, some oral health conditions can lead to tooth loss.
Adjust Your Diet
As you age, you may need to adjust your diet to protect your teeth and gums. Certain foods and beverages can harm oral health.
Avoid Sugary Foods
Bacteria feed on sugar and produce acids that attack tooth enamel. Limit sweets, and be mindful of hidden sugars in processed foods. When you do eat sugary treats, rinse your mouth with water afterward.
Drink Water and Avoid Sodas
Water, especially fluoridated water, helps prevent cavities. Sodas and other acidic drinks can contribute to enamel erosion.
Chew Sugar-Free Gum
Chewing sugar-free gum stimulates saliva flow, which helps wash away food particles and neutralize acids. Look for gum containing xylitol, which helps prevent cavities.
Be Wary of Certain Medications
Some prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and supplements can reduce saliva flow. This makes the mouth vulnerable to bacteria. Ask your dentist or doctor about dry mouth side effects.
Stop Tobacco Use
Tobacco use is very harmful to oral health. Smoking and chewing tobacco greatly increase the risk for gum disease, leukoplakia, oral cancer, and tooth loss. Quitting tobacco will benefit your overall health and your smile. Your doctor can suggest quitting aids to help you kick the tobacco habit for good.
Wear a Custom Mouthguard
If you play sports or tend to grind your teeth, have your dentist make a custom mouthguard for you. These molded mouthguards offer better protection than store-bought versions. Wearing one can prevent fractured and displaced teeth.
Get Dental Implants
As we age, tooth loss becomes increasingly common. Unlike wisdom teeth removal Las Vegas NV, losing permanent teeth later in life typically requires replacement to preserve your bite and facial structure. Dental implants provide a strong, natural-looking tooth replacement option. They fuse permanently with the jawbone, allowing you to eat and speak normally.
Take Care of Dentures Properly
If you wear full or partial dentures, be diligent about cleaning and caring for them. Remove, brush, and rinse dentures after each meal. Soaking them in an appropriate solution can help remove stains and bacteria. Make sure to brush your gums as well. See your dentist right away if dentures become loose or damaged. Ill-fitting dentures can impair speech and eating.
Our oral health needs change as we get older, but taking proactive steps allows us to keep our teeth and gums healthier for longer. Make oral healthcare a priority by adopting good home care habits. Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and exams to detect problems early. Address issues promptly to avoid extensive treatments. With diligent oral hygiene and professional care, you can enjoy the benefits of maintaining your natural teeth into old age.