Smile with Confidence at any Age
Look in the mirror. Are there fine lines? Good. You should be proud. Fine lines are the map of life—it means you’ve lived a lot. Eyes change over time, too, deepening in complexity and layering beauty with wisdom. In your eyes is every chapter you’ve walked through and every age you’ve ever been. It’s like you’re sixteen. And 29. And whatever age you are now. You are so many lovely people in one.
Some fitness experts say that your muscles don’t know your age. Your teeth don’t have to either. Your teeth, the only part of your body which does not heal on its own, can still be ageless. If you’ve already had your share of dental challenges to overcome, we can still help you achieve optimum health, wherever you are in your dental journey.
Here are five ways to experience your best oral health as a senior.
1. Avoid tobacco.
The news that tobacco adversely affects dental health is news to some. While the youngest of our kind have figured out that tobacco habits are not good for them, our generation had a different upbringing, and tobacco can be a difficult habit to break. However, the CDC reports that tobacco in any form increases the risk for “periodontal disease, oral and throat cancers, and oral fungal infection.” (Toothbrush.org) That’s a lot of unpleasant things. The good news is that the probability of all those conditions can be decreased by dropping one unpleasant habit. If you haven’t quit yet, your dentist can probably give you a few good tips on how to start.
First, a warning. Tooth decay is much more serious as we get older. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 93% of adults over 65 years old with permanent teeth have experienced some form of tooth decay. So if you’ve been ignoring the warning signs (pain, sensitivity, going a long time without dental care), pick up the phone today.
2. Visit the dentist regularly.
The dentist is your smile’s best friend. Visits to the dentist mean any problems are being nipped in the bud. Think of your dentist as your personal trainer and partner in keeping your mouth in optimal health.
3. Establish a new dental care routine at home.
It’s never too late to brush up on dental routine best practices, and most of us can use a refresher. Let’s face it, flossing and brushing are not the most fun daily activities on anyone’s list. Most of the time, we are just trying to get through it. Everyone (no matter their age) should follow the following advice:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Regularly clean and care for any dental appliances.
- Schedule regular dental visits.
4. Limit these problematic foods.
We’ve already talked about tobacco—also of concern are sugary and sticky foods. Sugar decays enamel, and the stickier the sugary food, the longer it remains on your teeth. Sweetened drinks are often a form of decay-causing sugar that many people overlook, but can be the worst due to the fact that they usually take a long time, even a couple of hours, to finish so are in contact with your teeth for an extended length of time.
5. Make sure you talk to your dentist about these common symptoms.
Toothache and Sensitivity
Toothache and temperature sensitivity could be signs of decay. If you are experiencing either of these, it’s important that your dentist takes radiographs (x-rays) and examines your teeth and gums to rule out decay.
Many types of viruses—such as a yeast infection, or even oral cancer—can cause mouth sores, so talk to Dr. Van Istendal so he can help you determine the cause or refer you to your primary care physician if necessary. Many dentists even do oral screening, Acorn Dental included.
Cracked or Broken Teeth
The time to repair cracked or broken teeth is now. The longer you put it off, the worse they can get. All but hairline cracks (which your dentist can help you diagnose) need to be addressed before they turn into bigger problems. Your dentist will be able to help advise on whether fillings, bonding, veneers, crowns, or implants are the best way to repair your tooth, restore function, and prevent further problems.
Bleeding or Inflamed Gums
Periodontal decay is another condition that is especially concerning in later life. Periodontal disease, a serious condition that can damage the gums and destroy the jawbone, affects “a staggering 70.1% in adults aged 65 and older, compared to just 24.4% in adults aged 30-34.” Bleeding or red gums, bad breath, or loose teeth are just some of the warning signs of periodontitis. If even one of these sounds the least bit familiar, please see your dentist. If you’ve never been a frequent flyer in the dental chair, it’s time to form a new habit of regular dental visits. It’s never too late, after all, to be your best self.
Persistent and Bad Breath
Bad breath can be embarrassing, but more importantly, it can be a sign of a serious condition. Bad breath can be a sign of periodontitis. It can also be merely due to poor dental hygiene or be caused by medications, or dry mouth. It’s impossible to determine the causes of bad breath on your own, but it’s a symptom that can be linked to several serious conditions. It’s important to talk to your dentist about it so you can get to the underlying problem. Your overall health will thank you—as will your social life.
Certain medications, aging, or radiation for cancer can all cause dry mouth. However, its effect on your oral health can either be a nuisance, or a major cause for concern, since the enzymes in our saliva are designed to help keep our teeth clean by breaking down bacteria. So talk to your dentist about it if dry mouth is persistent and troublesome.
There are so many reasons to take care of your oral health in your senior years. Your teeth, gums, and jawbone comprise an incredibly complex part of your body that either elevates or pulls down the health of the rest of your body. A smile brimming with confidence and epitomizing good health is a major factor in enjoying life—something you definitely deserve! For more about your oral health and you, read “Reasons to take care of your oral health,” or contact our friendly team at Acorn Dental Associates.