You may think healthy teeth are only for the young, but there are several good reasons to protect your teeth as you age. Missing teeth can cause bite misalignment, discomfort and create dietary challenges, and keeping your teeth healthy may even help you live longer.
If that’s got your attention, here are five tips to keep your aging teeth healthy and strong.
1. Keep Up the Basics
Periodontal disease is a common ailment, and it robs your mouth of a strong dental foundation. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 70.1 percent of adults age 65 or older have periodontal disease. Receding gum tissue exposes more root area and can increase cavity risk. Continue to brush and floss twice a day. Mouthwash can also aid in stamping out cavity-causing bacteria. Fluoride treatments at your regular hygiene visits are also recommended.
2. Baby Your Teeth
You probably remember being told to not chew ice when you were younger. That sage advice still stands and is even more important to obey as you age. Biting into a hard substance can crack or chip tooth enamel, leaving it vulnerable to further damage. Select softer foods and non-acidic drinks. Got a tough lid? Don’t use your teeth to open containers. Run the lidded jar under hot water to make it easier to open.
3. See Your Dental Team Regularly
Life can sometimes feel like one appointment after another, but here’s one visit you don’t want to skip. See your hygienist for a thorough cleaning at least twice a year. Your dental care team will monitor your fillings for cracking or decay along the edges. Loose teeth and mouth sores are also on their radar.
4. Keep Your Mouth Moist
No one likes to feel like they have a mouthful of cotton balls. Saliva helps prevent the build-up of plaque and neutralizes acids in the mouth. If your medications cause dry mouth, take steps to alleviate it. Options include sugar-free chewing gum, alcohol-free mouth rinse, staying well hydrated and using a fluoride treatment to protect teeth. If your dry mouth persists, discuss medication options with your medical doctor. There may be a comparable medication without mouth-drying side effects.
5. Nix Bad Habits
If you’re still packing around your cigarettes or chewing tobacco, it’s time to give those bad habits the boot. Tobacco use increases your risk of periodontal disease, bone loss in the jaw, increased plaque and a long list of cancers. Beat the addiction with the right tools. Talk to your healthcare provider about available cessation programs.
Healthy teeth are an important piece of overall wellness, but a strong smile doesn’t happen by chance. Care for your aging teeth with these routines to make day-to-day activities like eating and speaking easier.