Age and Oral Health
As we start counting our years, we begin counting the number of things changing in our bodies too. Our mouth is no exception. Today, 75% of people over the age of 65 hold onto least a few of their teeth. However, older people can still suffer from tooth loss, mouth infections, oral cancer, dental decay, and gum disease. While you might not like to think about some of these things happening to you, there’s a lot you can do to keep your mouth feeling and looking younger than you are.
Here’s how aging can affect your oral health and what you can do about it.
Wear and Tear
Did you know that your molars can bear over 200 pounds of pressure? This may seem like a lot, but they are in no way indestructible. A lifetime of grinding, gnawing, chewing, and crunching can flatten the biting edges and wear away the enamel outer layer.
Exposure to carbonated beverages and acidic foods such as citrus can also dissolve this protective enamel. Experiencing a weakened enamel can set your teeth up for more complex dental problems, while breaks and cracks on the tooth’s surface can cause pulp tissue to become irritated and vulnerable. Since the tooth can lose sensitivity overtime, this issue can be well advanced before you notice a problem. In the case of an infection you may need a root canal or lose the tooth entirely.
Maintaining good oral hygiene habits, flossing, brushing, scheduling regular cleaning is the best way to prolong the health of your teeth and combat natural wear and tear.
As you get older, you may have noticed that your once-dazzling smile has started to dim over the years. While a lot of this can be attributed to years of coffee, wine, tea, tobacco, and other uses, the change can be attributed in part to the yellowing of dentin located in side the tooth. As the enamel cracks with age this can show through.
The great news is that there is no shortage of whitening products available these days. Professional dental bleaching performed by our experts at Spokane Dental can even out and lighten your teeth several shades. Rinses and whitening toothpaste can also help to life superficial stains temporary.
Supporting Gums and Tissues
While having a sturdy set of teeth is certainly important, it’s important to also take a look at the gum and tissue lining the oral cavity. Periodontal diseases, which can be characterizing by gums that are receding, loose/wobbly teeth, and jawbone deterioration are the primary cause of tooth loss among adults. This is caused by a buildup of plaque between the teeth and gums.
Fortunately this disease is not only treatable, it is preventable too. To ensure that your teeth and gums are in the best oral health condition possible it’s important to visit our dentists at Spokane Dental at least bi-annually to catch certain symptoms before they become serious.
Tobacco and Age
As with most cancers, the risk of developing a cancer related to the oral cavity increases 10-fold with age. This is especially risky for tobacco users, including tobacco chew. In fact, the lip is the single most common site to develop an oral cavity cancer. This is followed closely by the tongue.
Initial signs of oral cancer are so subtle that they can be easily missed. If you noticed a red or white patch that lasts longer than 2 full weeks, you should make an appointment with an oral specialist immediately.
Besides the risk for oral cancer, other conditions like yeast infections and herpes are more prone as we age. These conditions are painful and interfere with our ability to talk, eat, and swallow.
For your overall health, it’s best to discontinue tobacco use and other cancer-linked activities as you age and as soon as possible.
Tips for Improving and Maintain Your Oral Health
As you start to age, it is even more important for you to pay special attention to your dental health and take good care of your teeth. A common misconception is that the loss of teeth is inevitable. However, this isn’t true. If you care for your teeth and mouth properly, your teeth can very well last a lifetime.
If you want to stay healthy, look great, and feel even better throughout your entire life, you might be surprised just what a healthy mouth can do for you. Here’s how you can improve and maintain your oral health and hygiene:
- Use a soft bristle or electric toothbrush to brush at least twice a day.
- Use a flossing tool or floss to clean between your teeth at least once a day.
- If you have to wear partial or full dentures, don’t forget to clean them on a daily basis.
- Remove your dentures for at least four hours out of each day.
- Drink lots of tap water. Tap water often contains fluoride, which helps in preventing tooth decay no matter your age.
- Quite tobacco use. Both smoking and chewing tobacco puts you at a greater risk for a range of cancers, including oral cancer. Tobacco use also increases problems surrounding tooth loss, tooth decay, and gum disease.
- Keep up with bi-annual cleanings and examinations with our dentists at Spokane Dental.
Adopting healthy hygiene habits at home, making good choices regarding lifestyle and diet, along with seeking regular dental care, will help you keep your teeth as long as you need them to – a lifetime.
Whether you have all of your natural teeth, wear dentures, or have implants, improving and maintaining your dental hygiene as you age should be at the top of your list. The truth is, your mouth’s well-being is tied to the health of your entire body.
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