Oral Health for Older Adults

Aging and Good Oral Health

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Andrew Slavin, DMD, FACS

Andrew Slavin, DMD, FACS

January 31, 2019

You can’t really prevent aging, but there are a number of things you can do to maintain good oral health as you age.

Even though your teeth are tremendously strong, they can be worn down over a number of years by all of the grinding, biting, and chewing that wears away enamel. Tooth enamel is an extremely hard outer layer on your teeth, but even it can be thinned out over the course of time, exposing the softer tissue underneath.

There’s not much you can do to eliminate the wear and tear your teeth are exposed to, but you can try your best to avoid exacerbating the situation. For instance, chewing on ice or other hard objects can chip away your tooth enamel, and can even cause your teeth to be broken. Teeth can also be subject to greater wear-and-tear when you have a poor bite, and this is something that probably will require orthodontic intervention. Night-time teeth grinding, a.k.a. bruxism, can be managed by wearing a tooth guard at night. Here are some other recommendations for maintaining good oral health as you age.

Maintaining healthy gums

One of the best things you can do for oral health is to maintain healthy gums, because gum disease can lead to a wide variety of unpleasant dental conditions. Bacteria known as plaque is always present on your teeth after eating, and if it’s not removed, it will continue to thrive and grow. That will lead to swelling, soreness, and possibly bleeding of your gums. It can also lead to infections which cause serious damage to the underlying bones in your mouth. When you have gum issues which go untreated, it can become so serious that you need to have teeth removed.

Signs that gum disease may be developing in your mouth include the following: bad breath, gums which recede or withdraw from your teeth, loose teeth, and bleeding as you brush each day. The simplest way to avoid gum disease or other kinds of gum issues is to take good care of your teeth by brushing and flossing twice each day. Make sure you keep all dental appointments conscientiously, so that your dentist can identify gum disease in its early stages. If you’re a smoker, you should resolve to quit immediately, since that can quickly worsen any gum issues you may have.

Be alert to sensitive teeth

Your teeth can become much more sensitive after you’ve experienced gum problems, worn out enamel, or any kind of tooth decay. You’ll recognize this right away when you drink something very hot or very cold, and also sometimes when you engage in brushing your teeth too vigorously. The best prevention for sensitive teeth is to brush and floss regularly, and to make sure that you follow your dentist’s advice on good oral hygiene practices.

If you have naturally sensitive teeth, your dentist will be able to recommend a toothpaste which is specifically formulated to accommodate sensitivity. There are also some in-office treatments available, which can manage sensitivity very well, and make you much more comfortable.

Watch out for acid

The reason you should limit your intake of any foods or drinks containing acid is that they can wear away the enamel on your teeth. Any carbonated drinks or citrus fruits all contain acids, which will slowly eat away at your tooth enamel. Some starchy or sugary foods will trigger your mouth into producing acid that can also harm the enamel of your teeth. Whenever you do drink beverages that contain acid, avoid swishing it around in your mouth, because this will coat all of your teeth with acidic liquid.

Don’t eat starchy or sugary foods as snacks, but include them with your main meals, because that’s when saliva production is at its highest, to help wash away any acids.

We can help your oral health as you age

The entire dental team at Good Samaritan Dental Implant Institute is well aware of all the pitfalls which can afflict your teeth as you age. We will be glad to advise you on best practices for maintaining good dental hygiene and oral health. Think of us as your one-stop shop for all issues related to maintaining the best oral health as you age.

Andrew Slavin, DMD, FACS

Andrew Slavin, DMD, FACS

Hello there, great choice moving towards the personal dental health care you desire!

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