Aging is a natural process, and maintaining a healthy body becomes a more conscious effort as the years roll by. Your dental health is no exception to this rule. The good news is, that with proper care and regular check-ups at your local Calgary dental office, you can ensure your smile remains as bright and healthy as ever. This blog post will walk you through various tips and practices to maintain and even improve your dental health as you age.
Know What to Expect
As we age, understanding the typical changes in your mouth and the impact of overall health on your dental wellness is crucial. This knowledge equips you with the right tools to maintain a vibrant smile as the years pass.
Let's delve into some of these expected changes and impacts, providing you with a roadmap to navigate the dental aspect of aging easily and confidently.
Changes in Oral Health
As we age, certain changes in our oral health are to be expected. One common issue is dry mouth, a condition where the salivary glands don't produce enough saliva, which is essential in neutralizing acids and helping to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. This lack of adequate saliva production can significantly increase the risk of cavities and can make it difficult to eat.
A receding gum line is another common change. As gums recede, more of the tooth and root are exposed, creating a haven for bacteria and leading to potential tooth sensitivity, decay, or tooth loss if left unaddressed.
Other changes might include a natural wearing down of the enamel, which protects our teeth, making them more susceptible to sensitivity and decay. Additionally, the ability to fight off bacteria and infections may diminish, posing a greater risk for oral diseases.
Sometimes, these changes are subtle and gradual, making them easy to overlook in the early stages. However, understanding that these shifts in oral health are natural as we age and taking proactive measures, such as maintaining a rigorous dental care routine and regular dental check-ups, can help manage and often mitigate these issues. This way, we're not just reacting to changes but staying a step ahead in maintaining a healthy smile throughout the golden years.
Systemic Diseases With Close Links to Oral Health
There are over 57 systemic diseases that have been shown to be affected by our oral health and vice versa. These diseases include diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. Ensuring that your periodontal (gum) disease is controlled is crucial for your overall health and progression of these diseases. For example, poorly controlled diabetes leads to exacerbations in gum disease, and poorly controlled gum disease in turn can lead to difficulties controlling blood sugars. The common element in all of this is inflammation - and our goal for all of our patients is to lower inflammation in your mouth at all times. Our strategy for this includes regular dental hygiene visits where your hygienist will recommend home care aids to ensure you are able to maintain optimal oral health.
Many medications can affect your oral health, so updating your dentist on your doctor’s health plan is crucial. For instance, some can cause dry mouth, and others might lead to an altered sense of taste or create inflammation in the gums.
Maintaining Dental Health As You Age
As the adage goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," and nowhere is this more accurate than maintaining our dental health as we age. Our daily dental hygiene routine is the first defense against the issues arising over time. It’s the cornerstone upon which a robust dental health regimen is built.
As we transition through different stages of life, the importance of daily dental care cannot be emphasized enough. It's not merely about reacting to problems but creating a solid foundation to prevent them. This proactive approach towards dental health underscores a lifestyle of care and attention reflected in our smiles. Now, let’s explore some essential daily practices that maintain a gleaming smile as the years roll on.
Regular Brushing and Flossing
Brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily remain the bedrock of maintaining good oral health, regardless of age.
Using the Right Tools
An electric toothbrush can be easier to handle and does a better job at cleaning your teeth, especially if you experience arthritis or other conditions that limit dexterity.
Using a waterpik daily dramatically reduces gum inflammation and will improve your oral health as well as your overall health.
Professional Cleanings and Exams
Routine visits to your dental office for professional cleanings and exams will help catch any potential issues early on and keep your teeth and gums healthy. During your check-ups, discuss any concerns you might have with your dentist and hygienist. They can provide personalized advice to tackle any issues you might be experiencing.
Healthy Eating Habits
A diet rich in essential nutrients can significantly impact your dental health. Ensure you're getting sufficient amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin C. It’s also important to note that sugary snacks and beverages can harm your teeth. It's advisable to limit the consumption of these items to maintain your oral health.
Combatting Common Dental Issues
As we age, the likelihood of encountering dental issues often increases. It's important to have a proactive approach to these challenges, enabling us to keep our oral health in good standing. Understanding common dental problems and how to manage or prevent them is a fundamental part of this process. In this section, we'll address some of the usual dental concerns, such as gum disease and tooth decay, providing you with the knowledge and strategies to manage them effectively. This way, we can minimize their impact and keep our smiles healthy and vibrant through the years. Let's delve into these issues further and explore how we can maintain a strong defense against them.
Gum disease is a very common issue affecting up to 75% of adults. It can be prevented with regular dental hygiene practices and professional cleanings. Our goal is to always eliminate inflammation (bleeding in the gums).
Tooth decay can be combatted with high fluoride toothpaste and rinses, reduced sugar intake, and regular dental check-ups.
Dental Implants and Dentures
As you age, you might experience tooth loss. Knowing your options can help you make informed decisions on what treatment option will work best for you. If you have dental implants or dentures, regular adjustments and check-ups are crucial to ensure they fit well and function as they should.
Maintaining dental health as you age might require some extra effort, but the rewards are well worth it. By adopting a solid dental hygiene routine, seeing your dentist and hygienist regularly, and maintaining a healthy diet, you can keep your smile radiant (and more importantly keep eating the foods you want!) for many years to come. Contact Eau Claire Park Dental for your next appointment with our friendly staff.
What surprised you the most about dental health as you age? How often do you book your cleanings to maintain your oral health? Share your thoughts with our readers in the comments below.