National Healthy Aging Month emphasizes the importance of practicing good health habits as age increases. In the United States, the current life expectancy for men and women is nearly 85 years. With continuing advances in public health, medical technology, and greater access to health insurance, people are living healthier and longer than preceding generations. With that said, oral health, regardless of age, plays a significant role in the overall health of your body! Especially as you get older, ignoring the health of your teeth and mouth can lead to more serious consequences than just a cavity.
As your age changes, your mouth also changes and it is even more vital to take care of your teeth. It is commonly believed that losing your teeth when you get older is inevitable. However, this is a misconception! If teeth are properly taken care of, they can last a lifetime!
Help your teeth age elegantly with you by keeping these few tips in mind:
Brush at least twice a day
Brushing your teeth is an essential oral health habit that applies in all stages of life. Brushing helps eliminate plaque, which contributes to tooth decay. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one-third of older adults have untreated tooth decay. When brushing, remember to brush along the gumline and tongue. With age, gums may begin to wear away or recede, leaving the root of the tooth exposed. Tooth decay is more likely to develop around the softer root or old filling.
Taking care of your gums is just as important as taking care of your teeth! Flossing helps prevent plaque from building up between teeth and below the gum line, where decay and periodontal (gum) disease often develop. Many adults in the United States show mild or severe signs of gum disease. It is this disease, and not the progression of aging, that is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Unfortunately, periodontal disease affects about 23 percent of adults aged 65 to 74, according to the CDC. Recent studies have concluded that the health of your gums may correlate to some chronic disease, including Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and diabetes.
Establish a balanced and nutritious diet
What you eat can not only help improve the health your body, but also keep your teeth healthy. Vitamins and other nutrients found in certain fruits and vegetables can improve your body’s ability to destroy bacteria and protect your teeth and gums.
Schedule regular dental visits
Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are an essential part of maintaining good oral health as you age. With age, the risk of developing chronic diseases increases. The dentist can diagnose and watch for oral problems that may point to other health problems.
Not only does smoking increase your risk for lung cancer, it also increases your risk for periodontal disease, mouth pain, gum recession, tooth decay, tooth loss and other oral health problems. According to two 30-year studies at Tufts University, smokers are approximately twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers. Also, a study conducted by the Journal of Dental Research shows that smokers are nearly twice as likely as non-smokers to need a root canal.
The use of medications also increases with age, many of which can negatively impact oral health. Some medications may cause dry mouth, which will lead to a decrease in saliva production and possibly lead to tooth decay. Saliva is critical for oral health, as it helps wash away bacteria and food particles. Also, if you wear full or partial dentures, remember to clean them daily! Food can become stuck between teeth, causing gum problems or halitosis (bad breath). By keeping your teeth healthy and strong, you might be surprised at what a difference a healthy mouth makes!
Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment and consultation.
Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. Van. Dr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.