When you think of growing older, your teeth aging may be the last thing that comes to mind. After all, if you brush them twice a day, what can go wrong? Unfortunately, the general wear and tear of everyday life does take its toll on our teeth and, as we grow older, we do become more vulnerable to oral issues such as gum disease, mouth ulcers and dental decay. While aging does put us at risk of more dental problems, there are changes that you can make to your daily routine as well as ways that you can manage your oral health care to prevent dental issues and keep your mouth feeling young.
Whether you still have all of your original teeth, just a few of them or you have a full set of dentures, we’ve put together a guide on how to care for your teeth as you grow older. From ensuring that you use a fluoride toothpaste to tackling dry mouth, we’ve got you covered.
Always brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
For many people, it goes without saying, but brushing your teeth twice a day is extremely important. You may have noticed that your sparkling smile has dimmed over the years, but you should always continue to brush them twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste. Using a fluoride toothpaste will help to protect the surface of your teeth and prevent decay – something that is still as important in your 60s as it is when you are young.
We also recommend using a soft bristled toothbrush for comfort and safety. Hard bristled toothbrushes can damage your teeth and gums and wear away too much enamel. This can lead to uncomfortable symptoms such as rough, uneven edges due to the inner layers becoming exposed and tooth sensitivity.
Make sure you have regular dentist check-ups
You should visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings. While there are a number of things that you can do to improve your dental health as you age, nothing beats the tailored advice of a dentist who will always do their best to stop potential dental problems before they happen. Having your teeth professionally cleaned will remove any tartar and plaque that has built up on your teeth. It is important that tartar and plaque is removed as a build up can lead to periodontal disease.
Care for your dental implants and dentures correctly
Whether you have dentures or dental implants, it’s important that you care for them correctly. The main difference between dentures and dental implants is that dentures are removable, whereas dental implants are titanium screws attached to your jawbone. Tooth loss is more likely to occur in older people, so it’s very common for elderly people to have one of the two.
You should care for your dentures just as you would care for normal teeth. Make sure that you clean them twice a day using a toothpaste that is specially designed for dentures. You should also use a non-abrasive denture cleanser, along with a daily denture-cleansing solution. Always remember that this solution is only to be used outside the mouth. If you wear removable dentures, you should be enrolled in a regular recall and maintenance programme with your dentist.
For dental implants, you should also clean them twice a day with a soft toothbrush just as you would normal teeth, using a low-abrasive toothpaste. Floss daily using an implant-specific floss and always make sure that you brush under and around the implant crown. As you grow older, it is common to find flossing more difficult. If this is the case, contact your dentist and they will be able to advise you.
Prevent mouth ulcers
While in most cases mouth ulcers are harmless, they can be uncomfortable and sore. Symptoms include painful sores on part of the skin lining the mouth, swollen skin around the sores, problems brushing your teeth or chewing because of tenderness, loss of appetite and irritation of the sores by spicy or salty foods.
Mouth ulcers can be caused by a number of different factors, from simply accidentally biting the inside of your cheek to poor oral hygiene and autoimmune diseases. To treat mouth ulcers, you should drink plenty of fluids, keep your mouth clean by brushing regularly and practice good oral health. In addition, you should regularly rinse your mouth out with warm, slightly salted water and use an alcohol-free medicated mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine gluconate. For severe oral ulceration, you may have to use an immunosuppressant medication prescribed by your dentist.
Be cautious of dry mouth
Getting older doesn’t mean that your mouth is going to dry out, but it does mean that you are at higher risk of having to take regular medications or suffering from a chronic condition, both of which can increase your risk of dry mouth as well as tooth decay and cavities. Saliva helps to keep your teeth clean and protects your mouth from decay; a lack of saliva as a side effect of medication you are taking can be uncomfortable and make eating and swallowing difficult. It can also cause bad breath and lead to irritation and infection of oral tissues.
There are a few things that you can do to prevent dry mouth. Simply drinking more water and chewing sugarless gum can help, while cutting down on caffeinated drinks and alcohol can also help as they dry out your mouth, as does smoking. If the medication you are taking is drying your mouth out badly, talk to your doctor about switching your medication.
Get clued up on gum disease
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums and surrounding tissues that hold teeth in place. Gum disease develops when plaque builds up along and under the gum line. There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is a mild form that is reversible with good oral hygiene – symptoms include red, swollen and bleeding gums. Periodontitis is a more severe form of gum disease that can damage the soft tissues and bone that supports the teeth.
While many people believe that gum disease is a part of growing older, this is not true and, fortunately, gum disease can be prevented with good oral hygiene. Thoroughly brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush, dental flossing and regular professional dental cleanings can help you to prevent gum disease as you grow older. In addition, eating a well-balanced diet and not smoking can help too.
Riverside Dental Practise: your local dental surgery in Stirling
Since opening in 1975, Riverside Dental Practise has been providing excellent dental care to the residents of Stirling and Falkirk. We have two fully-equipped dental surgeries, plus one room for sterilisation of instruments, ensuring that we have everything we need to offer a range of dental treatments depending on your unique requirements. Our services are available to both NHS and private healthcare patients across the UK.
In addition, our team of friendly dentists and dental nurses are equipped with the experience and qualifications to carry out a range of cosmetic treatments, from teeth whitening to the fitting of veneers. Whether you need a regular check up to assess the health of your teeth, you need to see an emergency dentist or you would like to make an appointment regarding dentures, look no further than us.