Like the rest of our body, our teeth undergo many changes as we age. They are usually related to habitual basis or the environmental does. There is a widespread misconception that tooth loss is an inevitable consequence of aging. Your teeth should last you a lifetime. What does this mean? If you take care of your teeth, you may expect to live a longer and happier life, and it will also be an investment in your general health.
Bu with aging, we experience changes in our oral health that need specialized treatment and deserve proper care like the rest of our bodies. Here, we’ll discuss a few proven strategies for keeping your smile strong and white as you age.
The body needs more attention and care as we get older. The same holds true for our teeth.
Understanding Dental Changes with Aging
Enamel wear, gum recession, and an increased susceptibility to dental decay are ways that aging and environmental effects can negatively impact our dental health. Medical issues, drugs, and unhealthy habits can all contribute to these changes. Knowing these changes will help you prepare for them and find solutions. This has been told in detail in our previously published article on dental changes. Read it here to have the best understanding of what change you are susceptible to and why.
Also, if you experience any of the following, it may be a sign that your oral cavity is not as healthful as it should be:
- Persistent bad odor despite flossing
- The feeling of a dry mouth
- Receding gums
- Gums that are red, swollen, or bleed easily
- Oral ulcers
- Pain/discomfort in your mouth
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
- Eating difficulties and increased susceptibility to hot and cool foods.
Consult your dentist immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. They can assist with the diagnosis and provide the necessary treatment.
How To Care For Teeth As You Get Older
Now that we know the significance of maintaining a healthy mouth as we age, we must devise a plan to ensure that our gums and teeth remain in excellent condition!
Fortunately, you can do several things to keep your dental health healthy and attractive as you age. And, for the most part, it’s the same type of action we recommend for individuals of all ages.
1. Brush Up On Your Skills
How you brush your teeth makes a significant difference. Brushing removes stubborn dental plaque of bacteria, acids, and dietary remnants. It forms naturally after eating but doesn’t become harmful until it reaches maturity, which takes at least 12 hours.
When bacteria digest sugar, they create acids that dissolve minerals from the particular tooth, leaving behind invisible, microscopic holes. The cavities will become more noticeable if the process continues and the damage isn’t fixed.
The Bass technique, which entails holding the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gum and making extremely small back-and-forth motions, has been recommended by the American Dental Association. Also, when brushing, people should use gentle strokes to ensure that all surfaces of each tooth are cleaned. It takes about two to three minutes to complete.
Plaque may be effectively removed by brushing twice daily, once before bed and once in the morning. Regular brushing prevents the acid-producing bacteria from establishing a foothold in the mouth. It has been found that to clean thoroughly without damaging the gums or teeth, medium-textured bristles and a compact toothbrush head make electric toothbrushes a better option than manual brushing. Most electric toothbrushes come with timers to guarantee that each quadrant of the mouth is given the recommended 30 seconds of brushing time.
Toothbrushes should be replaced every three to four months or sooner if the bristles become ragged.
But the most important thing is to start brushing right away!
2. Go For Flouride As Toothpaste
In most cases, the benefits of brushing are due to your toothpaste. Fluoride is the main component since it has been shown to protect teeth from decay. According to a new study, regular dental hygiene (brushing and flossing) does not protect against tooth decay without fluoride. Fluoride helps restore tooth minerals and strengthens enamel. It has been found that using a fluoride toothpaste with a ppmF (parts per million) concentration of 1,350 to 1,500 is the best protection against tooth decay.
3. Take Help From Disclosing Tablets
Another easy option to see if you have missed plaque is disclosing tablets. These tablets are an excellent aid to dental care when used for brushing. Dental plaque is often colorless and difficult to detect, but this harmless pigment in these tablets will help. Colored regions after brushing denote spots that might want more cleaning effort. Better oral hygiene results from visual indicators encouraging people to brush more thoroughly.
The gum tissue’s health and the size of the gaps between teeth determine how thoroughly you should clean between teeth. Even if there are just little gaps between your teeth, you should still floss carefully so as not to irritate your gums.
Always make sure you’re flossing correctly. Wind a length of dental floss (approximately 18 inches) around your fingers and carefully work it between your teeth. Curve the floss against the tooth and clean it thoroughly above and below the gumline. Reduce the spread of germs by using a clean length of floss between each tooth pair.
As we age and dexterity declines, simple tasks like flossing can become challenging. If this is the case, you should consult your dentist about other flossing methods that you may find more manageable. Fortunately, contemporary alternatives to the traditional floss thread and cumbersome hands-in-mouth technique exist. Floss picks and interdental brushes might be useful alternatives to regular floss if you have trouble using them.
5. Don’t Forget Mouthwash
Mouthwash with antibacterial agents can reduce the number of microorganisms in the mouth. It does more than just remove plaque by washing away food and debris. If you want to avoid having a dry mouth, pick a formula that doesn’t include alcohol.
Certain mouthwashes have been shown to improve oral health in some studies. One study indicated that chlorhexidine-containing mouthwash was effective in reducing plaque and gingivitis. Another one also found that mouthwashes containing particular essential oils were beneficial.
Mouthwash cannot replace brushing and flossing, but it can help to supplement these habits.
5. Spit, Don’t Rinse
We produce less saliva at night than during the day. Without sufficient saliva, your teeth will be more vulnerable to acid harm. Brushing your teeth thoroughly before bed is the best way to prevent plaque bacteria from growing overnight. “Don’t spit, just rinse” refers to refraining from spitting out toothpaste after brushing and instead rinsing with mouthwash. It is a common practice that enables the active ingredients in your toothpaste to continue protecting your teeth from plaque and bacteria throughout the night. As told by the NHS, this habit is difficult to overcome but can prevent up to 25% of tooth decay.
6. Limit the Free Sugar Intake
Intrinsic sugars are naturally occurring sugars present in foods such as fruit, and they are considerably less likely to cause tooth decay than added or free sugars, whereas free sugars are often those that manufacturers add to snacks. No matter the type, they are simple for bacteria to eat, metabolize, and generate acids from compared to other food materials.
As the World Health Organization and the National Health Service recommended, free sugars should account for fewer than 10% of daily calories. A comprehensive evaluation showed that decreasing this to 5% would even reduce the incidence of cavities and other oral issues. This equates to around 30g, or about eight teaspoons, of sugar per day for adults and children over 11. Sugar reduction helps to maintain the strength of your enamel, reducing sensitivity and other dental disorders.
7. Hydration is Key To Avoid Dry Mouth
Fruits, vegetables, and a diet low in sugary meals and drinks are all important for maintaining excellent dental health.
The American Dietetic Association recommends that people consume water or unsweetened tea throughout the day and limit or avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.
Acidic meals can erode tooth enamel, leaving teeth more vulnerable to decay. Therefore, drinking lots of water is important to maintain good oral health. Cavities and other dental problems, such as periodontal disease, can be avoided with water’s antibacterial and food-flushing properties. For this reason, keeping your body hydrated all day long is key.
8. Cut Down Wear and Tear
The teeth used to be very strong once, but we have learned that they can be weakened with time. The protective enamel coating on your teeth gradually wears away with constant use. The chewing and biting surfaces are likewise reduced in height.
Lifetime wear and tear can’t be undone without dental restoration, but more damage can be prevented. Avoid chewing ice and other hard substances. That’s bad for your teeth; it may damage and break the enamel.
Many people have the habit of clenching and/or grinding their teeth, especially at night. Some people do it all the time; for others, it’s more of a stress reliever. Extreme pressure on the teeth can cause wear and tear, gum recession, chipping and cracking, and other issues. Night guards and bite splints are frequent names for the same dental device used to protect senior citizens from the harmful effects of teeth clenching. Wearing one of these devices while you sleep can help reduce the consequences of bruxism.
To establish if a night guard is necessary, consulting a dentist is important as they will look at your teeth and listen to the issues you are experiencing.
9. Avoid Smoking And Other Tobacco Products
It is simpler to say than to do. To maintain healthy teeth as you age, however, ceasing smoking is one of the most essential steps you can take. Gum disease and oral cancer are both made worse by smoking. Consult your doctor about effective treatments for smoking cessation if you are presently a smoker.
10. With Regular Checkups, You Can Stay On Top Of Things
Routine dental examinations have become essential to disease prevention in oral health, as with any other disease. Not only are your teeth and gums cleaned and scaled, but they are also examined in ways you cannot do at home. And if you visit the office frequently enough, problems are detected before they become severe.
Such as Research in Sri Lanka shows those employed in the tea industry who don’t have access to professional dental care and who also smoke incur tooth loss over the course of 40 years.
Organizations concerned with dental health, such as the American Dental Association (ADA), recommend that adults have regular dental examinations every six months. This frequency is optimal for maintaining excellent oral health, preventing dental problems, and promptly addressing concerns. However, the recommended frequency can vary depending on an individual’s oral health status, risk factors, and ongoing treatments.
So make an appointment with your dentist immediately if it’s been over six months since your previous cleaning. They will look at your mouth and teeth to determine the best action.
11. Keep The Dental Work Maintained
For those of us who have undergone dental work in the past, ensuring that it has the best chance of lasting into old age is a major concern. Your dental health specialist can provide further specifics on prolonging the life of your fillings, crowns, and implants.
Denture wearers should always follow their dentist’s advice for cleaning and maintaining dentures. they have a longer lifespan if cared for properly.
Some of these solutions have probably been floating around in various forms for decades. However, they are not time-limited in any way to be followed.
Common Dental Procedure For Seniors
Teeth might become loose and fall out as we age because of damage, disease, or a lack of jaw bone. When teeth are lost, the jaw bone collapses. Seniors often undergo various dental surgeries and treatments just to maintain their smile. Doing one of these procedures can boost your self-esteem and quality of life. Some examples of this are:
Dentures are artificial teeth that may be removed from the mouth and replaced if necessary. In a dental laboratory, dentures are crafted from impressions of the mouth and are completely customisable. They are often fastened in place with metal clasps and are composed of acrylic (plastic). Recent research has shown that today’s dentures are more lifelike and comfortable. They improve chewing ability, speech clarity, and self-confidence. The dentures may need to be adjusted so that they continue to fit comfortably as the mouth changes.
Cavities don’t care about your age bracket. The structural integrity of teeth is restored and the tooth’s natural color is preserved with the help of research-backed cavity fillings. These procedures safeguard teeth from future deterioration and improve their aesthetics.
A tooth that has been severely affected by decay or infection may be saved by a surgery called a root canal. The injured oral tissues are removed, the tooth is cleaned, and then gutta-percha is used to replace the space left behind.
Dental implants are a great option for seniors who are lacking teeth and are the most common method and equally effective. They have been shown to restore lost oral function and aid in preserving jaw bone density. These implants help to secure replacement teeth in place, improving the look and feel of your smile. A few are mentioned below,
- Dental Crown: A dental crown is a permanent restoration that caps an affected tooth. Its purpose is to prevent future damage to the tooth, restore its functionality, and enhance its aesthetics. Porcelain, ceramic, metal, tooth- colored material, and resin are just some materials that may be used to create crowns. Floss and brush your implant or crown daily, just like your natural teeth.
- Dental Bridge: A dental bridge is a dental prosthesis that spans the space left by one or more lost teeth and the natural teeth on each side of the gap. The bridge, which may be porcelain or metal, is cemented into place between two crowns on each side of a gap.
Whitening solutions lighten the enamel and eliminate stains that have grown up over time. They are simple, quick, and cheap ways to fix the issue of age-related tooth discoloration. It may be done at home with an OTC product or in a dentist’s clinic, although the benefits are mostly aesthetic. Numerous options exist for teeth whitening for people of all ages.
- Professional in-Office Teeth Whitening: A dental professional performs a quick, effective method of whitening teeth using a concentrated bleaching agent and specialized light or laser.
- Take Home Whitening Kits: There are many home-bleaching kits, which typically include a bleaching gel and a custom-fitted tray for teeth cleaning.
- Over The Counter Whitening Products: Many toothpaste, strips, and gels are readily accessible without a prescription. Although they may not be equally effective as in-office treatments, at-home whitening kits might be an excellent choice for those seeking a more subtle change in tooth color.
Dentures, dental implants, teeth whitening, bridges, and crowns are the most common dental procedures for the elderly.
Many studies have shown that maintaining good dental hygiene becomes increasingly challenging with age; thus, it is especially important for older persons to start doing so now. While most of these issues do not require immediate attention, neglecting them can negatively affect your health.
Significant dental changes occur with age and require special care. People can keep their teeth and gums healthy into old age if they are aware of the changes that occur due to aging. Some of the external changes that come with aging teeth can be avoided. Our advice will help you maintain your health for many years to come. Teeth enamel can be damaged by drinking citrus juices, eating acidic fruits, drinking coffee or alcohol, or smoking tobacco. Tooth decay, commonly known as dental caries or cavities, can be exacerbated by sugary gum or sweets. The best is to adopt good oral hygiene practices as told in our detailed guidelines and regularly visit a dentist.