Aging isn’t something we always want to think about, especially when it comes to our health, but it’s important to arm yourself with information so you can live a long, healthy and happy life. No matter how well you care for your teeth, they age as you do. One thing that isn’t as inevitable as aging, is losing your teeth because of it.
Although 35 million Americans are missing all of their teeth according to the American College of Prosthodontists, you don’t have to become one of them. Taking good care of your teeth with a consistent and effective oral hygiene routine can ensure you maintain a great quality of life without the challenges of eating and speaking with dentures.
Here are a few challenges some patients face after 60 and how to address them:
A Long List of Medications
It’s normal as you age to encounter some health problems or simply situations that require a daily medication to keep you in top shape. Many patients don’t realize just how many medications can have an effect on your oral health. Talking to your dentist about each medication you are taking is a great way to find out if there are any other steps you need to take. Sometimes switching to a similar medication without the side effects that could harm your mouth and teeth is all that is needed.
Arthritis and Mobility Issues
Pain and stiffness in the joints, muscles and bones are a common concern with older Americans. Larger handled or electric toothbrushes can help if arthritis or mobility issues make brushing and flossing more challenging. There are also many varieties of flossing alternatives on the market such as water piks and floss-on-sticks to help reach into the very back of the mouth which can be hard for some.
Smoking and Other Bad Habits
Although the smoking rate in the United States is in a strong trend downward, many older adults grew up in a time when it was common to start smoking from a very early age. Years of exposure to tobacco and other elements found in cigarettes and chewing tobacco can wreak havoc on teeth and gums. The best solution is to quit, of course, but that isn’t easy. Talk to your doctor or dentist about quitting. No matter how long you have smoked, quitting can have immediate health benefits, especially in the mouth.
Gum Disease and Tooth Loss
The number one cause of tooth loss is gum disease which occurs when plaque build-up on teeth and gums leads to inflammation. Usually, this is due to poor oral hygiene. Even with a great at home routine, once plaque hardens into tartar it can be hard or even impossible in some cases to remove without professional equipment and training. This is why it’s vital to maintain regular cleanings and exams with a dentist.
If you’re overdue for your twice a year cleaning and exam, or think it might be to time to schedule your next one, call us at Arcadia Dental Arts at 602-680-5356.