An increasing number of individuals are maintaining their natural teeth to enjoy beautiful smiles throughout their lifetime. At any stage of life, oral health plays a significant role in one's overall well-being and appearance. As we age, it is imperative to take proper care of our dental health by exercising good daily oral hygiene habits, eating a healthy diet, and staying hydrated to preserve our teeth and gums.
Aging can affect oral health and lead to various conditions. Regular dental checkups can help identify developing cavities that may go unnoticed due to the narrowing of nerves inside the teeth. Additionally, prescription medications can cause dry mouth, which can contribute to root and coronal cavities, gum disease, and harmful acid neutralization. Staying hydrated by limiting the intake of alcohol, sweetened, or caffeinated drinks can mitigate dry mouth.
Gum disease is a common condition among older adults caused by harmful bacteria in plaque. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, and symptoms include red, swollen, or bleeding gums that can be treated with daily oral hygiene and professional dental treatment. If left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, which affects more than half of adults aged 65 to 74 and can lead to bone and gum material breakdown. Periodontitis can cause gum recession, exposing the root surfaces of teeth and making them more susceptible to decay, leading to tooth loss.
Oral cancer is also a risk for adults over 40, and individuals should have an oral cancer check if they notice patches of red or white on the tongue, gums, inner cheeks, or other oral tissues. Early prevention, and detection can significantly improve the chances of a successful treatment.
At home, individuals should use an electric or battery-operated toothbrush and cavity-fighting toothpaste and oral rinse to maintain oral hygiene. Flossing between teeth with a flossing tool or interdental cleaner/brush can promote healthy teeth and gums, and cleaning dentures daily and removing them for at least four hours a day can allow the gums to rest. Giving up tobacco products is advisable as they can cause dry mouth, gum disease, and tooth decay leading to tooth loss. A nutrient-rich diet can also help maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Regular dental checkups can detect developing problems early, allowing for less invasive treatment options. Taking care of your oral health as you age can help you retain your beautiful smile and strong teeth for a lifetime. To schedule your consultation at our clinic in Edina, Minnesota, you may call us at (612) 800-8002, and look for Dr. Bashar, DDS.