As we age, we notice changes in our physical appearance our skin wrinkles and we may notice age spots, our metabolism may slow; we may notice changes in our physical wellbeing that affect our daily habits. Not unlike other aspects of health, oral health changes as we age as well.
Cavities, gum disease and tooth loss affect millions of seniors age 60 and over. In fact nearly 30% of seniors over age 65 have no remaining teeth. Keeping your teeth in good health for life starts now! Healthy aging isn’t just about caring for your body; take these 8 simple steps to keep up with your dental health.
1.) Brush and floss twice a day to properly care for your teeth, tongue and gums. Even if your teeth “look” clean, there are microscopic bacteria on and between your teeth. Brushing at least twice a day helps remove bacteria and plaque that cause tartar buildup and decay. Moreover, flossing is important for not only cleaning between the teeth but under and around the gum line.
2.) Manage diabetes and other chronic conditions that can influence inflammation in the mouth. Uncontrolled diabetes and gum disease go hand in hand, since diabetes often spikes inflammation throughout the body. Clear warning signs are bleeding, red, swollen or puffy gums, pain around the teeth, receding gum tissue, and bad breath. If left uncontrolled, these symptoms can cause tooth loss.
3.) Eat a well-balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and complex carbs to support the health of the tissues and bone that comprise your mouth. Just like any part of your body, your mouth needs proper nutrition to function properly. Click here to learn about healthy foods for your mouth.
4.) Balance stress through positive activities. Stress can lead to teeth grinding and clenching. Pressure from teeth grinding can thin tooth causing a range of oral health issues.
5.) Refrain from habits that can damage teeth such as nail biting or chewing ice. Large chips or fractures can occur from chewing hard objects or using teeth to open packages, chewing ice or other items can also cause microchips in tooth enamel and can break teeth.
6.) Never ignore pain, sensitivity, bleeding or changes with your oral health. One of the BIGGEST cardinal rules of dental care is not ignoring abnormalities in your mouth. Always talk to your dentist about changes inside or around your mouth.
7.) Choose beverages smartly and avoid excessively sugary or acidic drinks that ruin teeth. What you drink can strongly impact the health of your teeth, starting with acidic or sugary drinks that wear away at tooth enamel. Also be wary of drinks like coffee and tea, which can stain teeth.
8.) See the dentist every 6 months for an exam, x-rays and dental cleaning! If you haven’t seen a dentist in 6 months or longer, it’s time to schedule an appointment.