As we age, oral care becomes increasingly important. It may be even more imperative than you realize. Aging is a part of life, and it can come with an increased risk of health issues in your mouth and throughout your body.
What changes as we age?
Given all the crunching, chewing, and biting our teeth do, they are bound to wear down over time. No matter how well we take care of our teeth, natural wear and tear can still take a significant toll. Some of the changes you may notice are:
• Tooth Changes – Over time, you might see your teeth getting darker. That’s the aging dentin, the tooth’s middle layer, getting thicker and darker. At the same time, your tooth enamel thins, which makes it easier for the darker dentin colour to show through. Plus, staining from years of foods, coffee, tea, and even tobacco will discolour your teeth.
• Gum Changes – Receding gums and shrinking jawbones are common issues we see as we age. As the gums pull away from your teeth, the roots of your teeth will be exposed and can cause sensitivity.
What are the risks?
A healthy mouth can help you look good, eat delicious foods, and speak confidently, but most importantly it is essential for a good quality of life. Your dental health is closely linked to your overall health. Unhealthy bacteria can harm your teeth and gums, and it also leads to serious medical conditions.
Gum Disease – Gum disease come with some uncomfortable symptoms. These symptoms include recession, bone loss, inflammation and will ultimately lead to tooth loss if not treated by your oral health professional. In the early stages, your gums may bleed easily or become red, a disease known as gingivitis. As the disease progresses, you can develop Periodontitis. Periodontitis is a more severe form of gum disease that will swiftly lead to tooth loss.
Dry mouth – Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, can be a major issue that often goes unnoticed in older adults. When there is not enough saliva to wash away bacteria and food particles in your mouth, your risk of infection increases. Some medications common to older adults can contribute to dry mouth as well. Diligently brushing and flossing your teeth combined with regular dental visits can decrease your risk.
Root Caries (Decay) – Root decay is a cavity that appears on the roots of teeth. Unfortunately, these types of cavities can start and spread faster than others. They spread to the inside of the tooth and can cause infections. Older adults are more at risk for many reasons, so it’s important to ask your dental hygienist about how to avoid root decay.
Heart Disease – Many of the causes of gum disease are similar to those of heart disease, like tobacco use and poor nutrition. Research has shown that systematic diseases, like heart disease, have oral symptoms. The links between the two conditions have long been debated, but there is a correlation. If brushing your teeth can protect your heart, you might want to give it a try.
Tips for a healthy mouth
Keeping a healthy mouth is possible and essential. We’ve put together some dental care tips to help you keep that gorgeous smile.
1. Brush at least twice a day – Taking care of your natural teeth is crucial. Don’t cut corners on brushing and flossing. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride twice a day. If you don’t feel like you’re brushing effectively by following a recommended technique, invest in an electric toothbrush.
2. Floss once a day – Flossing once a day can help pull food particles from hard to reach places in your smile. Food particles can deteriorate and not only cause bad breath but also attract bacteria.
3. Stay Hydrated – The dentist chair and the bathroom aren’t the only places where you can take care of your teeth. Staying hydrated will help attack dry mouth head on. Talk to your dentist about any medications that might be causing dry mouth. Using artificial saliva products or chewing sugarless gum can help too!
4. Calcium– Calcium is an important part of everyone’s diet, but even more so as we age. Calcium can help prevent bone loss or Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis in your jawbone can lead to your teeth becoming loose or even falling out. It’s recommended to get about 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day from dairy foods or vegetables.
5. Visit your hygienist regularly for an oral exam – Visiting your hygienist regularly is essential to maintain a beautiful and healthy smile. Your hygienist went through years of schooling to help you take care of your mouth, so be in communication with your dentist or dental hygienist and discuss any irregularities.
6. Don’t wait until there’s a problem to see a dental hygienist – You should see your dental hygienist at least twice a year, but if you start noticing a problem – GO! Individuals with the ongoing dental concerns may need to go more often.
Now, you’ve got great tips for dental care, but what about caring for your dentures? Just like your natural teeth, brush them to remove any food or plaque regularly. You can even rinse your dentures with mild hand soap. Abrasive toothpaste or strong cleaners can cause damage to the dentures, so make sure you use mild cleaners. Remember to remove and rinse your dentures after you eat and soak them overnight. You don’t want any lingering bacteria to stick around!
Mobile Dental Care
Luckily, you don’t have to search for “dental cleaning Mississauga” or “dental cleaning Brampton” anymore. Dental care is easier than ever with Great Smiles Ontario. Instead of taking an entire day off to see your Registered Dental Hygienist, the Hygienist can come to you. Getting a mobile dental cleaning will get you all cleaned up and back to work in no time – with a gleaming smile.
Keeping your gums and teeth healthy can help prevent bacteria from entering your bloodstream. Practicing good dental health across your lifespan will help you maintain a healthy smile and can improve your quality of life. Your oral health is an investment, but it’s a worthwhile investment.