Good oral health is an important part of growing older. Unfortunately, many older adults don't give their overall mouth care the attention it needs. Use the following suggestions to ensure that your mouth stays healthy.
Prevent gum disease - which is the major cause of tooth loss in adults - by brushing and flossing regularly, eating a balanced diet and making regular visits to your dentist.
It may become more difficult to keep your teeth clean and white as you grow older. This is because plaque can build up faster, and in greater amounts, as you age. Keep plaque to a minimum with a fluoride toothpaste recommended by the Dental Association.
Saliva helps keep your mouth healthy. When dryness occurs, it can be the result of several causes, including medications and illness. See your dentist for ways to treat dry mouth.
Changes in your mouth that occur with aging can make cavities a problem. Fluoride is the best defense you have against cavities, reducing the risk by 15 to 35 percent.
Even if you no longer have natural teeth, you should continue to see you dentist regularly. Regular visits are especially important to check for signs of diseases which show symptoms in the mouth, such as diabetes.
Dentures don't last forever. A recent study has shown that after 11 years, about 80 percent of dentures need to be replaced. Never use a denture adhesive regularly unless advised to by your dentist. If used consistently, denture adhesives can mask infections and cause bone loss in the jaw.
There are several cosmetic procedures available such as bleaching and bonding that can help improve your smile. Ask your dentist about what techniques would be right for you.
If arthritis, stroke, or another medical condition has made it difficult for you to brush or floss, see you dentist for adaptive devices that can help you. These include extenders for toothbrush handles, specially designed floss holders, etc.
Whatever your age, it's important to keep your mouth clean, healthy and feeling good. With good home preventive care and regular visits to your dentist, changes in your mouth need not cause problems. Make a commitment to your oral health - and keep a smile that will last a lifetime.