As we get older, our joints become stiffer. Our hair may begin to thin. Weight gain becomes more difficult to control.
Aging can also affect our teeth. Your cells are renewing at a slower rate. Your bones become less strong and dense. This includes your teeth. The quality of your enamel begins to erode. Maintaining a healthy diet becomes more challenging, and this in turn can affect our teeth.
Here are a few things you can do to encourage great dental health as you get older.
Watch Your Diet
Taste sensation will likely diminish as you age. Many people counteract the lack of flavor by using more abundant seasonings, especially sugar and salt, which can be harmful to the teeth. Many people may turn to hot foods to increase flavor sensation. This can be harmful to gums.
Avoid Wear & Tear
Chewing ice is a bad habit. As the enamel on your teeth wear down with age, ice chewing can break it down further, even result in cracked or loose fillings or splinter the tooth. Avoid chewing ice and hard or crunchy foods, especially as you get older.
Pay Attention to Gum Disease
Gum disease is a progressive illness. It’s often when we get old that the bill comes due. Keep up on gum disease with regular cleanings and checkups. Floss regularly. If flossing becomes difficult due to arthritis, switch to a Waterpik. Rinse regularly with warm salt water.
Avoid Dry Mouth
Saliva is a natural cleansing agent for teeth. But many people experience dry mouth as they get older. It’s often a side effect of medication. Drink plenty of water and hold it in your mouth before you swallow. Chew sugarless gum regularly, as this will moisten your mouth and help prevent cavities.
Limit Acidic Drinks
Fizzy drinks and citrus drinks contain acid that can wear away at the enamel of your teeth. Avoid energy drinks at all costs. If you use lemon in your water, avoid swishing. Drink plenty of milk to help counteract the acid.
We know, you’ve heard this before. But the risk of cancers and other tobacco related illnesses exponentially increase with age. The likelihood of developing cancer increases with every year of tobacco use.
It’s never too late to quit. In fact, the older you get the more important it becomes to quit. Consider switching to nicotine gum or smoking aides like Chantix.
Oral Health is Heart Health
The truth is that oral health is intrinsically connected to your overall health, especially heart health. There is a growing body of evidence that tooth decay and gum disease can increase your chances of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory issues.
See a dentist regularly. Brush and floss every day. This is always important, but it becomes all that more critical as we age. Our health problems will increase, and many of those begin in the mouth. Practicing good oral health will help you live longer and enjoy life. The time to begin is now.
Do You Wear Dentures? Care for Them
If you wear dentures, it’s important to care for them carefully. Take them out at night and brush them. But don’t use toothpaste, which can be abrasive and damage your dentures. Instead, denture cleaning solution. Hand soap or dish soap will work in a pinch. Avoid using a hard bristle brush because the rough edges can damage the surface. Use a brush especially designed for dentures that has soft bristles.
Be sure to keep them moist when you’re not wearing them. Otherwise they’ll dry out and lose their shape.
Also make sure to see a dentist regularly. He or she can check to see if your dentures are fitting properly or if any adjustments need to be made. Poorly fitting dentures can cause sores and infections. Your mouth is continually changing so your dentures will need to be adjusted or even replaced over time.
Never attempt to adjust your dentures yourself. You could break them. Always leave the adjustments to a dentist.