4 Tips for Protecting Your Oral Health as You Get Older
While many people think that tooth loss is an inevitable consequence of aging, it doesn't have to be. The health of your teeth and gums should remain a priority throughout your life so that you can avoid dental diseases in your later years. Here are five tips for protecting your oral health as you get older.
There are two primary factors that come with age that can lead to increased sensitivity in your teeth: enamel erosion and gum recession. Your enamel creates a protective barrier around the soft dentin inside your teeth that is sensitive to temperature and acidity. The gums serve a similar purpose by shielding the sensitive roots of your teeth.
Maintaining good dental hygiene habits is the best way to slow these processes that lead to sensitive teeth. Brushing and flossing twice each day and using a fluoride mouth rinse will keep your gums and enamel healthy for as long as possible. You should only brush with a soft-bristle toothbrush and avoid abrasive products such as whitening toothpaste.
Talk to Your Dentist About Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is a particularly common problem among the elderly. While many people think dry mouth is simply a consequence of getting older, it can usually be attributed to many medications that elderly patients take that cause dry mouth as a side effect. Many people look for a remedy for dry mouth due to the discomfort it causes, but it can also pose a health risk.
Adequate saliva production provides many benefits for the health of your mouth. Saliva is responsible for rinsing food particles and bacteria off of your teeth and gums and reducing the occurrence of infections and mouth sores. If dry mouth has become a continuous problem, talk to your dentist so they can recommend treatment and possible medication alternatives.
Have Dental Work Inspected Regularly
While many advances have been made in the effectiveness and longevity of dental restorations, no filling or crown will last forever. The average dental filling will last around 10 years, while crowns may last five to 15 years, according to WebMD. As you age, it is a good idea to have your dental work inspected regularly so that you can have your crowns or fillings replaced before complications arise.
The cement that is used to hold fillings and crowns in place is more susceptible to damage from aging than the dental prosthetic itself. This can cause a crown or filling to fall out, and bacteria can hide in small cracks in the cement. Your teeth and gums will naturally recede around the edges of the crown or filling, so your dentist should watch for decay in these sensitive areas.
Budgeting for Dental Care
The most effective way to keep your dental expenses as low as possible is to have regular dental exams so any issues can be addressed early, avoiding possible increased costs of extensive (and expensive) repairs.
Know the Warning Signs of Oral Cancer
While oral cancer can occur at any age, oral cancer rates increase after age 50 and peak between the ages of 60 and 70. The causes of oral cancer are not fully understood, but healthy lifestyle choices such as stopping the use of alcohol and tobacco products can reduce your risk. Even with low risk, you should still receive regular cancer screenings from your doctor and dentist.
Oral cancer is often detected during a routine dental visit, but you should still be aware of the symptoms so you can bring your concerns to your dentist. Sores, lumps, and discolored patches on the mouth or lips are the most common symptoms. Pain, numbness, and bleeding in the mouth are other warning signs.
Protecting your oral health as you get older is not difficult if you maintain good dental hygiene and are aware of the complications that can arise with age. Visit us at Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, for professional dental care that can keep your mouth healthy for a lifetime!