Maintaining Dental Health as You Age
Dental health isn’t just about your pearly (or not so pearly) whites. A visit to a thorough and qualified dentist means having your teeth, mouth, gums, tongue, and the glands in and around your neck and throat examined.
Why dental health is so important for seniors:
Advanced technology and excellent dental care has resulted in over 75% of Americans over the age of 60 sporting their own teeth. Whether you have a mouthful of relatively healthy looking teeth or you have the kind you keep in a glass at night, it is more important during the “golden years” than ever to pay close attention to dental health.
Reasons why a healthy mouth and teeth are so important:
- Signs of other health problems– Loose teeth, oral pain, and bleeding gums may signal serious health concerns such as heart disease or diabetes. It is especially crucial to practice good dental hygiene if you have a serious health condition or signs of one developing.
- Self-confidence- A bright healthy smile is important at any age. However, socializing and feeling comfortable around others is an especially vital part of our happiness and longevity as we age. Good dental hygiene can help maintain self-confidence.
- Enjoying food- Whether you are a real “foodie” or mostly eating to live, healthy teeth are essential in chewing and digesting all types of food.
How to practice dental health:
- Brushing- Most of us learned to brush our teeth before we were three. Chances are, if you are over 60 and you still have most of your teeth, you must be doing something right. However, if you have not yet discovered the virtues of electric or battery operated toothbrushes, now is the time to give them a try. In general, motorized toothbrushes are more effective, but as we lose dexterity, an electric toothbrush is an invaluable tool.
- Flossing- Twenty-three percent of individuals over 60 have severe gum disease, while much more have the beginnings of this serious problem. To protect your gums be sure to floss once a day.
- Toothpaste and mouthwash- It is important to brush your teeth twice a day with toothpaste containing fluoride protection. Additionally, rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash once or twice a day.
- Monitor your mouth- If you notice any of the following conditions make an appointment with your dentist.
o Dry mouth
o Sores or pain in the mouth
o Loose teeth
o Dark teeth
o Diminished sense of taste
- Dental Appointments- Schedule regular check-ups every six months.
Even if you have enjoyed next to perfect teeth throughout your life, it is important to pay close attention to oral hygiene and dental health as you age.