Proper oral hygiene is essential to maintaining healthy teeth and gums at any age but as an individual ages, it becomes all the more crucial. Preserving your natural teeth is certainly a goal that we all have but what you might not know is how common tooth loss actually is in adults over a certain age. In reality, adults over the age of 65 have approximately a 25% chance of not having any remaining natural teeth at all. These shocking statistics are no doubt affected by the fact that one-third of older individuals fail to seek treatment for existing tooth decay. Considering this, there is only one real conclusion; regular trips to the dentist, close observation, and dedication to oral hygiene are all critical to maintaining a healthy smile.
Oral Symptoms Associated with Aging
Aging can have a definite impact on many aspects of your dental health including but not limited to:
- A weakened sense of taste
- Dry mouth
- Root decay
- Gingivitis and periodontitis (gum disease)
- Tissue inflammation that is exacerbated by the use of dentures
- Gum recession and exposure of the roots
- Uneven jawbone
- Oral cancer
Unfortunately, many of these symptoms go either unnoticed or ignored by the patient. The result is often tooth loss, other serious dental conditions and, in the case of oral cancer, sometimes even death.
Tips to Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy for a Lifetime
Knowing what you need to do to protect you oral health is certainly the first step to keeping your natural teeth healthy at any age. The following are some tips to help you achieve this:
1. Use a soft bristled toothbrush twice a day for approximately two minutes. If you have a hard time counting out the proper time, try an electric toothbrush that vibrates or beeps when the time is up.
2. Use floss once a day to get to the areas between your teeth. If you don’t feel comfortable with floss, try floss picks.
3. Drink tap instead of bottled water. Tap water will usually contain fluoride which helps to protect the enamel of your teeth.
4. Put away the cigarettes. Smoking has a number of negative consequences including increasing your risk of tooth loss, decay, and gum disease.
5. Clean your dentures daily. It is best to take them out at bedtime and leave them in a denture cleaner for a minimum of four hours.
6. See your dentist regularly.
While every patient is different, the above suggestions can go a long way toward helping you achieve good long-term oral health. Remember, if you ever have any questions or concerns, contact your dentist as soon as possible to schedule an appointment.