Our teeth are supposed to last us a lifetime, but as more people are seeking tooth replacement therapy than ever before, we need to take a step back and not take our teeth for granted if we want to keep them in good condition for our older age.
Many older people are reluctant to give up their sweet treats, even though they know that indulging in too much sugar is bad for our teeth. But of all the ages and generations of people, you tend to find that older people are generally better than younger people at looking after their teeth. Older people tend to be good at keeping regular dental appointments for check-ups and teeth cleaning. They are also better at sticking to a regular oral hygiene routine, making sure they regularly brush their teeth and use floss and mouthwash.
What younger people have to realise is that neglecting their oral health now can be very detrimental in the future. Keeping up a regular dental health routine is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, especially because it can help prevent or reduce dental issues that become more common as we age, such as gingivitis and tooth decay.
While being quite common dental health conditions for older people, allowing decay and gingivitis to go untreated can lead to more serious issues such as periodontists, which is a major cause of bone deterioration in your jaw that leads to loss of your natural teeth.
Why oral care is so important for older people
A very common belief is that losing your teeth as you age is completely natural and will happen to most of us in the end. This simply isn’t true, and if properly cared for, your teeth really can last you a lifetime!
You can expect some changes to your oral health as you age, but this doesn’t mean that tooth-loss is inevitable. As you age, the nerves in your teeth can start to shrink, thus making your teeth less sensitive. This isn’t a good thing though as it can often hide issues such as dental decay and the development of cavities that can go unnoticed for much longer in older people.
You have an in-built tooth decay prevention system in the form of your own saliva, but sadly as we age our mouths become drier, increasing the likelihood of developing tooth decay. This is why keeping up with a regular toothbrushing routine, as well as using floss and mouthwash to get in-between the teeth where your brush doesn’t reach, is so vitally important for the long-term maintenance of your teeth.
There is also the fact that as we age, we may need to have more medications to control medical conditions that come with age. There are lots of over-the-counter and prescription drugs that can cause dry mouth, so this also means that if you take medications, your chances of dental decay go up.
Dentists recommend that older people with dry mouth, or for those taking medications, that they keep well hydrated with regular sips of water to help flush the mouth, swap juice and sugary drinks for water, and also use sugar-free chewing gum or sugar-free mints to help make your mouth water and produce more saliva.