Did you know that your teeth actually become less sensitive as you get older?1 In addition, older dental work can become loose and fillings can fall out, leaving room for bacteria and plaque to grow. So good dental care remains important, no matter your age.
Some of us avoid the dentist, only going when we’re in pain. But pain is often a late sign of tooth decay or gum disease.
The risk for periodontal disease (severe gum disease) increases with age.2 This is especially concerning because untreated gum disease can worsen chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.3
Even if you have dentures or implants, it is important to maintain good dental care habits, and do whatever you can to keep your mouth healthy.4
A healthy mouth is simply good for your overall well-being. It makes it possible for you to eat healthy meals every day, which helps keep your body strong.
Now that you know why it’s so important, let’s review some simple steps you can take to maintain good oral health.
Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush
Preventing gum disease, which can cause swelling, irritation, and bleeding of the gums, starts with keeping your teeth clean.5 Using a soft-bristled brush, take a good 2 – 3 minutes to gently scrub your teeth, gums, and tongue twice daily.
Floss every day
It’s the only way to remove the plaque that builds up between teeth and below the gum line. If it’s too hard for you to use regular dental floss, there are a number of flossing tools you can try that are easier to handle.
Drink tap water
Today most sources of tap water contain fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay.6 Drinking water also helps avoid a dry mouth, another cause of tooth decay. As we age, we don’t produce as much saliva, and some medications tend to dry out the mouth. Drinking tap water is an easy and inexpensive remedy.
Eat a healthy diet
Lean proteins and dairy products help strengthen teeth. Nuts provide more protein and minerals, and fresh fruits and vegetables help increase saliva and clean your teeth while chewing.7
If you smoke, quit
In addition to the risk of cancer, smoking also increases your risk for cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss.8 The same goes for chewing tobacco.
Visit your dentist every six months
Regular dental checkups and cleanings are a key part of maintaining good dental health at any age. Since most health or dental plans include coverage for preventive care, why not take advantage of it? Your dentist may discover problems before they become serious or cause pain. Be sure to bring a list of your medications to share with the dentist.
Already have dentures or a partial?
The constant pressing of the dentures on your gums can cause the gum tissue to shrink, changing the way your dentures fit. They may slip or feel loose over time, so regular checkups with a dental professional remain important.
Anything that keeps you from enjoying a nutritious diet can affect your overall health. Don’t wait for problems to appear. Keep taking care of your teeth and gums to ensure you are doing all you can to stay healthy.
To learn more about affordable dental insurance for seniors, see the article 5 ways for people on Medicare to get the right dental coverage.