No matter your age, oral health involves actively taking care of your teeth and gums on a daily basis. However, even with diligent oral care, your mouth changes as you age. The teeth, gums, tongue, and oral cavity as a whole require additional time and attention to ensure a healthy mouth for years to come. Oral health plays a pivotal role in the overall health of your body, so you are doing double duty when putting your oral health at the top of your priority list.
Brush and Floss Daily
Although this may seem like a basic hygiene task, it is often overlooked or not executed with full effort. Make sure you are brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day. This is the minimum standard you should hold yourself to. When brushing, an electric toothbrush is best, but a manual brush can work just as well.
- When using an electric toothbrush, hold it in place brushing each tooth individually.
- When using a manual toothbrush, brush each tooth, all exposed sides, in gentle, but firm circles.
- Floss between each tooth clearing out any stuck food.
With aging comes a higher risk of both gum disease and cavities, so these daily preventative measures will lower your risk for both. If you experience dry mouth, consider rinsing with a hydrating mouthwash after each brush.
Eat The Right Foods
A balanced diet low in sugar is optimal for both your body and mouth. Excessive sugar intake weakens your immune system and increases your risk for cavities that can lead to cracked, broken, or lost teeth. Reduce the added risk of cavities by adhering to a low-sugar diet and avoiding highly-acidic foods and drinks. Sodas, including diet sodas, as well as sports drinks are very high in acids and can wreak havoc on your teeth by breaking down the outer layers. Excess citrus fruits in your diet will do the same. Eat them in moderation and make sure to brush well after consumption.
With age comes the increased risk of dry mouth. Over 2/3 of older adults experience dry mouth, to a degree. Stay on top of your saliva by taking in an adequate amount of water and avoid drying agents like mouthwashes with alcohol. Higher levels of moisture in your mouth reduce the risk of decay or infection of your gums and teeth. Your oral health and body will thank you for choosing water as your drink of choice.
Nix Tobacco Use
Cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco all increase your risk of mouth cancer, gum disease, and infections in your oral cavity. Studies show that in the presence of gum disease tobacco use will accelerate the breakdown process making it 5-10 times faster not to mention that it stains your teeth and leads to bad breath. Avoid tobacco use completely to put your best foot forward in oral health. If you currently use tobacco, work with your doctor or dentist to find a way to quit.
Get Regular Dental Exams
Seeing a dentist (like Dr. Lipkowitz!) on a regular basis keeps you on top of your oral health. Regular exams often help spot problem areas before they turn into serious matters, allowing you to take care of them at an early stage. Dental cleanings should be performed between 2 and 4 times a year, as recommended by your dentist based on your individual needs.
Pay Attention To Changes In Your Oral Health
No one knows your body quite as you do. Pay attention to any changes, big or small, that you notice in your mouth. Speak to your dentist upon your next visit regarding any minor changes you notice.
Schedule an appointment if any of the following changes occur and do not go away within a two-week time period:
- A red or white patch anywhere in your mouth.
- A sore or lump on your tongue, lips, throat or inner cheek.
- Swelling in your mouth or jaw.
- Unusual mouth pain or tenderness.
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
- Jaw pain or stiffness.
- Cracked, broken, or loose teeth.
- Lingering hot, cold, or sweet sensitivity.
When it comes to having excellent oral health for years to come, even as you age, proactive choices are key. Maintain a healthy mouth by staying on top of brushing, flossing, and dental exams. Deal with dental problems early rather than waiting for them to cause noticeable problems. Avoid foods that have high sugar or acid content and stay away from tobacco. Mitigating the risk of oral health issues as you age is vital in maintaining a healthy and beautiful smile. To learn more about maintaining your oral health as you age, or to schedule an appointment, contact us. We can’t wait to help you achieve your healthiest smile.