OLDER ADULTS NEED TO PAY MORE ATTENTION TO THEIR ORAL HEALTH
Becoming older can be a wonderful time in your life — you finally get the chance to spend extra time with everyone you love and see new places around the world. Get the most out of your senior years by doing everything you can to steer clear of common oral health issues that can slow you down. After the age of 55, you are at greater risk for many issues (a few examples are tooth decay, gum disease, and dry mouth), but these can be avoided with a good dental care routine at home plus regular trips to your dentist in Cary, NC. To help prepare you for how your oral health may change as you get older, our staff at DentalWorks – Cary Crossroads reviews some of the most common oral health issues we see in adults over 55 years old and ways you can boost your oral health so you avoid these problems.
COMMON DENTAL ISSUES IN OLDER ADULTS
Like many other seniors, you may notice your teeth are sensitive as you get older. Increased dental sensitivity is often the result of thinner enamel or untreated problems (for example, a cracked tooth). If you are noticing a sharp pain when you eat or drink something that is especially hot or cold, talk to your dentist about possible underlying issues that could be making your teeth sensitive and ways to strengthen your enamel.
- DRY MOUTH
A lot of people notice their mouth feels drier when they get older. It is not your imagination; persistent dry mouth is often a side effect of many medications and cancer treatments (chemotherapy and radiation). When your doctor prescribes a medication, ask if dry mouth is a potential side effect. If it is, make sure that you start drinking more water and chewing sugar-free gum, which stimulates saliva production.
- LOSING TEETH
As you get older, the higher your chances get of losing a tooth or several. One tooth may be lost due to a car crash, several due to an oral health condition, or all your teeth as a result of poor oral care. If you lose a tooth (or a couple), talk to your dentist in Cary, NC to learn about restoration options. You may be a good candidate for a dental bridge or removable dentures or an implant-supported restoration.
- WORN ENAMEL
Also known as attrition, all the years of using your teeth to chew and bite wears the enamel down. This can make your teeth sensitive and increase your risk of developing cavities as well as other dental problems. It could help preserve your enamel to switch to a soft-bristle toothbrush and brush your teeth with a light pressure.
If you didn’t develop good oral hygiene habits early in life, it’s probably going to catch up with you later. Older adults are at greater risk of developing gum disease, which is caused by built-up plaque and bacteria beneath the gumline. Gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, can include visible symptoms such as red, swollen, or bleeding gums.
- DENTAL DECAY
Brushing and flossing every day along with regular visits to your dentist can reduce your risk of tooth decay. However, when you haven’t been doing this, you might be facing tooth decay when you’re older. Without treatment, decay turns into a cavity, which may eventually destroy your whole tooth and spread to your other teeth. If your tooth is a different color (yellow or gray) and feels sensitive or loose, schedule an appointment with your dentist to have your tooth repaired or removed.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR ORAL HEALTH
- STOP USING TOBACCO
You will find a million other reasons to quit, but smoking or chewing tobacco damages your oral (and overall) health. Talk to your doctor about tobacco cessation methods that could help you quit chewing or smoking tobacco. E-cigarettes can also be damaging to your oral health, whether you’re adding tobacco or not.
- DAILY BRUSHING AND FLOSSING
Hopefully, brushing and flossing every day is a good habit that you already have. Be sure to replace your toothbrush when it’s worn down or every three months and use a fluoridated toothpaste. Brush your teeth, gums, and tongue gently at least twice a day. Make sure you’re not brushing too aggressively or using the wrong type of toothbrush because this can result in sensitivity and wears down your enamel. Ask your dentist to demonstrate correct technique for brushing as well as flossing.
- CARE FOR YOUR RESTORATIONS
If you don’t have all of your natural teeth, make sure you’re taking excellent care of your dental restoration(s). Implanted crowns, bridges, and dentures should be flossed and brushed every day. Removable dentures should be taken out at night, brushed, and then soaked overnight. It’s fine to put dentures in plain tap water or you could use a denture cleanser. Schedule regular visits with your dentist so they can check your dental restoration.
- USE MOUTHWASH
A good approach to combat dry mouth and clean away germs is with mouthwash. Look for a product that is specially formulated to treat dry mouth. You may also look for a moisturizing oral spray to carry with you and use when you’re out.
- GO TO YOUR DENTIST
Schedule appointment with a board-certified dentist in Cary, NC at least twice a year for an oral health examination and professional cleaning. These visits give your dentist the opportunity to catch any problems early (for example, cavities and gum disease), and that means you have more treatment options that are typically less invasive. Your dentist can also assess the health and wear of any dental restorations and make recommendations on how you can improve your oral health.
- DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
One tip that is good for your oral and overall health is drinking lots of water through the day. This will help to keep your mouth from getting dry and rinses away bacteria when you can’t brush your teeth after eating. Tap water is usually preferable compared to bottled water since most cities add fluoride, which helps to fortify your teeth. Try to limit sodas and coffee because it can stain your teeth and the acid damages your enamel.
DENTAL CARE FOR OLDER ADULTS IN Cary, NC
Make sure you spend your golden years with good oral health. If you’re 55 or older, schedule an oral health examination and cleaning at DentalWorks – Cary Crossroads. Our seasoned team of dental professionals will help assess the status of your teeth, gums, and jaw. We will take care of any existing conditions, check the wear and fit of any restorations, and give you tips to help boost your dental health.