Teeth and Aging: How To Keep A Healthy Smile As You Get Older
At any age dental health is very important and can often be overlooked. As we mature into later life some individuals may begin to neglect their dental hygiene and health.
Perhaps they might think ‘what’s the point’ or ‘it’s too late to do anything now’.
However, this is far from the truth.
Good dental health can equip you to live a healthy and happy life in your later years.
In this article, we’re going to address some common myths around dental health for older individuals as well as some of the common issues that people might face.
We’ll also help you identify potential signs of gum disease and provide some tips for looking after your dental health as you age.
The myths surrounding teeth as you age
There are some common myths which surround teeth and dental health in older individuals. Some of the myths are loosely based on fact and some are just plain untrue.
Here we’re going to explain some of these myths and debunk others.
Myth 1 – I’m going to lose my teeth when I’m older
Some people believe that you’re certain to lose your teeth when you age. However, with the correct home care and help from your dentist there is no reason you should lose your teeth.
It is in fact possible to keep them for life. Gum disease and tooth decay can be prevented whatever your age.
Myth 2 – I’m going to get gum disease
Gum disease is created by a build-up of bacteria called plaque which forms constantly on your teeth.
By consistently and regularly removing this plaque through brushing and dental care you can reduce your chances of getting gum disease.
If you ignore this plaque then this can lead to inflammation of the gums and will eventually cause gum disease where the bone under your gums is affected. This will cause teeth to loosen over time.
Different problems that older people face
As an older individual there are some elements of dental health that you will need to be aware of.
But by being aware you can mitigate their effects on your teeth and live a healthy life.
The signs of gum disease
In order to stay on top of your dental health as you age it’s important to be aware of the signs of gum disease.
You might be surprised to learn that gum disease is actually often painless and many people won’t know they have it.
Here are the common signs of gum disease that you should be aware of:
- Bleeding gums when you brush your teeth can be an indication of gum disease and shouldn’t be shrugged off.
- If your teeth become loose this may be a result of gum disease. If plaque starts affecting the bone underneath the teeth then they can become loose.
- Receding gums may also be a sign of gum disease so make sure you carefully check your gums on a regular basis for any recession.
- If you suffer from bad breath then this could also indicate gum disease.
Not everyone will have all of these signs and in fact you may only have one or two. That’s why it’s important to have regular check-ups with your dentist.
Tips for taking care of your teeth as you get older
As you age your dental health requirements may change.
Make sure you stay on top of dental hygiene as you age by following these dental tips specifically for older individuals.
- Continue to brush your teeth (and dentures if you have them) at least twice a day. Ideally before bed and at one other time during the day.
- Make sure you use a fluoride toothpaste which contains between 1,350 and 1,500 parts per million. Your dentist may prescribe you a higher fluoride toothpaste if they deem it necessary.
- Take time to clean between your teeth at least once a day using interdental brushes which are specifically designed for that purpose.
- Consider cutting down on sugary sweets and drinks, including boiled sweets and mints.
- Make sure you keep up with your regular dental appointments to avoid any unwanted surprises.
- If you suffer from arthritis or find it difficult to hold a toothbrush you can purchase adaptors which can make them easier to hold.
- You may also want to consider using an electric toothbrush. This can be especially helpful if you have limited movement.
- If you’re already missing teeth consider getting dentures, bridges or implants so you can enjoy a healthy diet and smile with confidence.
- Broken teeth or ill fitting dentures can cause mouth ulcers. If the cause of the ulcer is removed ulcers should heal within three weeks. If it doesn’t heal make sure you consult your dentist.
- If you’re housebound locate a dentist who conducts home visits.