Tooth loss and the need for dentures were inevitable side effects of aging. But in today’s society, more and more people are keeping their natural teeth thanks to advances in dentistry and an increased emphasis on oral health.
Growing old does not mean you need to lose your teeth. There is a multitude of ways to not only keep your teeth intact but also to keep them looking and feeling good.
Risks to Oral Health as You Age
As we age, many risk factors can affect our oral health. Luckily, most of these can be combated with proper care and maintenance. Some examples of risk factors are:
Receding Gums: Years of harsh brushing and missed diagnosis for gum disease can lead to receding gums.
- Dry Mouth: A common side effect of medications.
- Medical Conditions: Diabetes, cancer, iron deficiency, thyroid problems, and other conditions can contribute to oral health issues.
- Natural Wear: No matter what precautions you take, your teeth will experience wear down through years of biting, chewing, and grinding.
How to Look After Your Teeth
Tooth loss is not necessarily a side effect of old Age. Good teeth care and avoiding irritants can ensure a lifelong healthy smile. The following are 5 things you can start doing now to have better oral health in the future.
Healthy GumsTeeth needs a sturdy jaw and healthy gums to hold them in place. One of the main reasons for tooth loss is periodontal disease, which affects the areas surrounding the teeth. Examples of periodontal disease include gingivitis, receding gums, and jawbone deterioration.
Receding gums can expose the teeth’ roots, leaving them prone to decay and infection, eventually leading to tooth loss.
Age itself is not the cause of periodontal disease. Instead, plaque builds up over time, the disease goes unnoticed and worsens without proper treatment.
Keeping plaque off your teeth with regular brushing, flossing, and routine dental visits can help prevent periodontal disease. If caught early, gum disease can be treated with antibiotics and removing plaque and infected gum tissue. For severe cases, surgery may be needed.
1. Regular Brushing and Flossing
As we get older, brushing and flossing become more crucial than ever. Due to wear, teeth lose enamel over time, making them susceptible to plaque and decay.
It is recommended to brush with an electric soft-bristle toothbrush twice a day. These specifications are even more critical as we age. Stiff bristles are tough on the gums and can contribute to a receding gum line.
Try brushing your teeth at a 45-degree angle to ensure your gums are cleaned but do not brush too aggressively on the gums. If you have arthritis pain or other physical disabilities that make brushing hard, an electronic toothbrush can remove some of the strain of brushing.
If flossing isn’t part of your daily routine, there is always time to start. Almost one-third of your teeth are not touched by brushing alone, leaving plaque in your mouth that leaves cavities and gum disease. It is recommended you floss at least once a day. Ensure the floss is scraping each side of your tooth and reaching your gums for maximum plaque removal.
2. Regular Cleanings
Brushing and flossing removes plaque from the mouth but usually leave some plaque behind. Plaque can harden into tartar, a hardened cavity-causing substance. Tartar can’t be removed with brushing alone; it can only be removed with professional teeth cleaning.
Teeth cleanings can be set aside if you have a long list of medical appointments, but they are vital to maintaining teeth and oral health. Cleanings are usually paired with a dental examination, where a dentist can check the overall status of your dental health. Not only are your teeth cleaned, but your mouth is assessed for gum disease, oral infections, cancer, and bone disease risk.
3. Maintain Dental Work
Old Dental Work
Dental work such as fillings, crowns, and implants can last long with proper care but do not necessarily have a lifetime guarantee. Have your dentist check your previous dental work for the need for replacement.
Dentistry is a rapidly evolving field; some dental work may need to be updated and have a shorter lifespan than newer procedures and methods. Maintaining your old dental work directly impacts your overall oral health.
You may need dentures in the future or already have a partial or a complete denture. With proper care, dentures can last the rest of your life. Part of that proper care is visiting a dentist if you notice anything irregular.
Consult your dentist if you experience soreness, bad breath, or discomfort. Always keep your dentures clean according to your dentist’s instructions to prevent any issues.
4. Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is great for your overall health, including your oral health. Sugary processed foods stay on the teeth and eat away at your enamel over time. Fruits and vegetables contain healthy vitamins and minerals that can strengthen teeth.
Also, including low-fat dairy in your diet increases your protein and calcium intake. It improves the strength of your teeth and your overall bone health.
Maintaining oral health is not only for aesthetic reasons or for avoiding dentures. Your oral health is tied directly to overall health. Increasing evidence links inflammation of the gums to diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and respiratory problems. It is hypothesized bacteria from the gums can travel through the bloodstream to other parts of the body. Also, many methods for improving oral health are good for preventing illnesses beyond the mouth.
We are fortunate to live in a day and Age of modern dentistry, where it is becoming increasingly common to maintain our natural teeth. With proper care and routine visits to your local dentist at Valley Ridge Dental Centre, you can maintain your teeth for a lifetime – call us today to schedule an appointment at our NW Calgary dental clinic.