How to Care for Your Teeth as You Age

AgingYour teeth are remarkably resilient. They put up with grinding, biting, chewing, gnashing, and crunching on a daily basis without much complaint. They are exposed to extreme hot, cold, acidic, and sugary foods at almost every meal, and yet they still assist you in talking, eating, smiling and more whenever you need.

In short, you can always count on your teeth, but can they always count on you?

As we age, there are a few ways in which we need to look out for our teeth. We need to make a concerted effort to prevent acid erosion, minimize mechanical wear and tear, avoid gum problems, and stop xerostomia, or dry mouth.

Acid Erosion

Starchy and sugary foods like pasta and sweet, carbonated beverages are the culprits to watch out for here. As their residue sits on your teeth after a meal, it begins to ferment and lead the bacteria in your mouth to produce acid. This acid creates itty-bitty pits in the enamel, which provide an opening for further tooth decay later on.

So, what can you to do prevent acid erosion? You can start by being sure to steer clear of sugary beverages like sports drinks and sodas – not only for your teeth but for your overall health.  You should also do your best to avoid frequent snacking, which causes acid levels in the mouth to remain high over an extended time. Following a healthy daily dental hygiene routine can also help minimize the amount of bacteria present on your teeth.

Mechanical Wear & Tear

Mechanical wear and tear may occur when you bite down too hard on a popcorn kernel, try to chew an olive with a pit still in it, or grind your teeth. It is not possible to avoid daily wear and tear of your teeth completely, but you can avoid eating things that are intensely crunchy, biting ice, and clenching your teeth. If you have a habit of grinding your teeth at night, your dentist can recommend a mouth guard to help protect them.

Gum Problems

Healthy teeth require healthy gums for a firm foundation! In fact, one of the very biggest threats to strong healthy teeth is gum disease. As we age, small pockets can form at the gum line where bacteria tend to build up. Untreated bacterial infections of the gums can lead to inflammation that may eventually damage connective tissues and bones. Brushing and flossing regularly can help to prevent this problem, as can seeing your dentist for a regular check up every six months. Eating foods that suppress inflammation, such as those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, may also help.

Dry Mouth

Having a dry mouth is more than just uncomfortable; it can dramatically increase the risk of gum problems and tooth decay. While saliva flow doesn’t always decrease due to age, there are literally hundreds of medications that can cause chronic dry mouth, many of which are very common amongst the older population. If chronic dry mouth is a problem for you, a change may need to be made to your prescription. Oral mouthwashes made specifically for dry mouth are also available to improve upon the problem.

Your oral health isn’t necessarily you’re first aging concern, but it definitely shouldn’t be the last. You might lose your figure, your hair might thin, but a healthy and beautiful smile is something that will last you throughout your whole life as long as you give your teeth the care and respect they deserve.

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