The Aging Mouth: Dental Care Tips for Older Adults
We all reach a point in our lives where we realize that we are getting significantly older. Your forehead may no longer be as smooth as it once was, and you may be discovering new lines and wrinkles around your eyes, mouth, and neck. To top it off, if you spend your life being carefree about oral care, you may notice a stark decline in your dental health.
Like your skin and internal organs, the mouth is susceptible to aging, too. You need to exert extra effort if you want to maintain strong, healthy teeth. If working out and eating clean are already on the table, why not add more vigilant dental care to the list?
Caring for Your Teeth as an Older Adult
If you (1) procrastinate on brushing more than once a day; or (2) floss once in a blue moon — today is the day to do better. The sooner you practice proper dental hygiene ensures that your teeth will be at their very best during your twilight years. After all, the single most important thing you can do for your teeth is to start caring for them now rather than later.
As you get older, certain oral conditions that were not present when you were younger might develop. You should be mindful of the following dental problems, which may increase in occurrence once you reach your late 40s and beyond:
- Dry mouth: As you age, you may start noticing that everything, from your skin to your mouth, is feeling significantly drier than usual. In addition, reduced saliva is a factor in certain medical conditions, including diabetes and cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 400 commonly used medications contribute to dry mouth. This increases your risk for oral disease, as saliva helps kill bacteria and rebuild enamel.
- Darkened teeth: Tooth darkening is a natural effect of aging. The hard outer tissue covering your teeth (enamel), wears away and exposes the darker dentin beneath it. Other factors such as tobacco smoke and caffeine, also contribute to teeth discoloration.
- Root decay: Decay affects all ages, but it gets increasingly difficult to manage as you get older.
- Gum disease: Teeth brushing on a daily basis prevents plaque buildup that can lead to decay, receding gums, and eventually tooth loss.
- Tooth loss: If you fail to take care of your chompers, you are guaranteed to lose them.
- Disease: Oral cancer and less serious illnesses such as thrush, are the abnormal growth of fungus in the mouth.
The following are solutions that help prevent or manage all dental issues mentioned:
Kyrene Family Dentistry recommends using a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean your teeth. Not only is a soft-bristled toothbrush comfortable, but it is also the safest choice to prevent damaging the gums and protective tooth enamel. You should brush your teeth religiously after each meal, and this becomes especially crucial as you age and your enamel wears away. If you have arthritis or find it difficult to hold a toothbrush for the recommended two to three-minute cleaning time, you may try sitting down and using an armrest to keep your hand in place. You should also consider using an electric toothbrush, which is less challenging to use.
When brushing, make sure to use a forty-five-degree angle, take your time, and avoid scrubbing too hard.
Flossing should be done daily since it does about 40% of the work required to remove sticky bacteria from your teeth. Flossing allows you to reach every nook and cranny of your mouth that brushing would otherwise miss. However, keep in mind that careless flossing can damage teeth, gums, and dental work. Therefore, be gentle and take your time in flossing along your teeth, and remember to scrape the sides of each tooth several times to remove all traces of plaque.
Dental implants are an excellent option for replacing missing or completely damaged teeth. The procedure does involve surgery and provides permanent results. Implants work by connecting a metal post into the jawbone, and then attaching the dental implant by screwing it into place. After the implant integrates to your bone, it will be shaded to match the rest of your natural teeth and filed to match your bite. At Kyrene Family Dentistry, we perfect dental implants to a point where most people forget they have even have them.
If you choose to get dental implants, keep in mind that though they are stronger than other options, they are not as strong as your original permanent teeth. That being the case, you must be extra cautious when caring for them. For example, brushing and flossing are also crucial in maintaining artificial implants. However, you must brush gently and be extra careful flossing where the implant meets the gum.
Removable dentures are custom made to fit your mouth and mimic the appearance of your original teeth. Partial dentures are perfect for filling select spaces of missing teeth, which improves not only your smile, but also makes it easier to chew your food. Full dentures, on the other hand, are a better option if partial dentures or implants becomes impractical or ineffective. In this case, it may be necessary to remove any remaining teeth through dental surgery.
Much like your permanent teeth or dental implants, having dentures need utmost care and maintenance. For instance, if you choose to get dentures and procrastinate in brushing your remaining teeth, you increase your risk of gum disease and inflammation, both of which can make wearing dentures uncomfortable or even impossible.
Regular visits to your local dentist are required as your mouth is always changing. Aging, in particular, makes routine dental visits crucial to ensure that your teeth are in mint condition. If you are looking for a reputable family dentist in Chandler, Arizona and the surrounding cities, contact us today at 480-705-9005. We have the start-of-the-art equipment and certified dental professionals you need to achieve and maintain a brilliant smile.