Today, more than ever, older adults can look forward to keeping most of their teeth. This is in part thanks to living healthier lifestyles and in a time of advances in oral and medical care while recognizing the importance of daily dental hygiene. Still, keeping your natural teeth can still be a challenge, especially when it comes to untreated tooth decay. In fact, nearly all adults who are over 65 have had at least one cavity, and one in five adults have untreated tooth decay.
Teeth, gums, and the rest of the oral cavity need extra care and attention if you want them to stay healthy in your later years. While in the past dentures were a no-brainer as people aged, today seniors often keep at least some of their natural teeth. But you can still be vulnerable to wear and tear on your pearly whites as well as the following as you age:
-tooth decay/tooth loss
The longer your teeth perform their daily tasks of chewing (crunching, grinding and gnawing on tough foods) you can wear down your tooth enamel over time and dull your molar’s biting surfaces. Today’s diet also exposes your teeth to carbonated drinks like sodas and citrus fruits that are available all year round, damaging tooth enamel and potentially leading to fractures, chips and breakage. In fact, seniors over the age of 65 struggle with tooth decay even more than school-age children, especially around the gum line!
One reason is that the soft oral tissues of the gums deteriorate over time, exposing the soft root tissue. This is why brushing and flossing are so important as they help your teeth and gums stay stronger when supplemented with bi-annual teeth cleanings to remove hardened plaque or tartar. If your manual dexterity diminishes as you age, using an electric toothbrush can make all the difference as can adding fluoride products like rinses, gels and varnish, to your regimen to strengthen your enamel.
You are also more vulnerable as you age if you rely on others for oral and health care, have poor oral hygiene habits or a higher rate of oral disease. Unfortunately, oral diseases can leave you with many issues, including:
-Tooth root decay and tooth loss
-Bad breath from dry mouth
-An uneven jawbone
-Denture induced stomatitis
-Problems chewing, swallowing and even tasting your food
You are especially vulnerable to these issues if you already have diabetes, stroke or heart and lung disease.
Our dental team, and especially our dental hygienists, always emphasize brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day between your pearly whites. If you wear dentures, remember to take them out at night for cleaning and letting your gums rest and breathe while you sleep. Don’t forget to clean brush and floss any natural teeth left in your smile and massage your gums with a soft toothbrush or a damp washcloth. If you are still living at home or in a long-term care residence, your caregiver must take over those tasks so you are less vulnerable to oral diseases. At Valley View Dental, we are here to help you keep you smiling and welcome you to visit vvdental.com or give us a call today at one of our locations near you!