You might believe, as many people do, that it’s inevitable that you’ll lose your teeth as you age. But this is a common misconception. You can keep your teeth for a lifetime if you care for them properly. That’s why it’s even more important that you pay attention to your dental health and take better care of your teeth and gums as you get “long in the tooth”, so they say.
Dental Conditions Associated with Aging
Aging can bring about certain dental conditions that can affect your teeth, gums, and health. These include:
- Xerostomia (Dry Mouth). This condition affects around 30 percent of older adults who are 65 years and up, according to the American Dental Association. Forty percent of older adults affected are 80 years and up. Although Xerostomia is more common in the aging adults, it’s commonly an adverse effect of taking more than four types of prescription medications daily. However, your dry mouth can result from certain conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease. Dry mouth often leads cracked lips, mucositis, fissured tongue, and caries.
- Oral Cancer. As you age, you have a higher risk of oral cancer. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that It’s usually detected in adults older than 55 years old.
- Root Caries. Your risk of root caries, which is a lesion situated on the tooth’s surface, increases with age due to exposed root surfaces from gingival recession and Xerostomia that results from taking more medications. Around 50 percent of older adults with root caries are 75 years old or older.
Preventative Measures You Can Take
There are preventative measures you can take to keep your teeth healthy and strong.
- Reduce Wear and Tear. Although your teeth are strong, they can still be worn down by grinding, chewing, and biting which wears your enamel away. Your enamel is the outer, hard layer of your teeth. Biting and chewing can also flatten the parts of your teeth that you use most. Teeth wear and tear happens to everyone and unless you have a doctor restore it, it won’t get any better. However, you can reduce it and keep it from becoming worse with good oral hygiene involving regular brushing and flossing and seeing your Chicago family dentist.
- Maintain Healthy Gums. Your gums are just as important as your teeth for good dental health. Plaque (a form of bacteria) forms on your teeth. You get rid of it by brushing your teeth. If you don’t get rid of it, it may lead to swelling, soreness, and bleeding gums. It may even lead to infections that harm your bone underneath.
- Keep Your Mouth from Drying Out. Your mouth gets drier as you get older and this increases your risk of tooth decay. Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist. Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless candy which works well too. Talk to your doctor about changing your medication if they’re causing your mouth to dry out.
Other things you can do include:
- Use a fluoride toothpaste and brush teeth twice a day.
- Keep plaque from building up between your teeth by flossing.
- Schedule regular check-ups and cleanings with your Chicago dentist.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Don’t smoke, snuff or chew tobacco.