Phone (513) 251-5500
June 25th, 2019

How to Take Care of Your Oral Health as You Age

Category: cincinnati dentist

how to take take care of your oral health as you age hagen dental in cincinnati ohio

One of the things that happens as we age: our health changes! And, it’s no different within our mouth…

Even though dental health is always going to vary from person to person, remember this: oral health impacts the rest of the body, which is a reminder that no matter your age, you want to keep up with your oral health habits.

Why You Want to Take Good Care of Your Teeth & Gums As You Age

Here are just a few reasons why dental care is vital for you when you’re older:

Good oral health is a weapon against heart disease. The American Academy of Periodontology reports that those who have gum disease are nearly twice as likely to have coronary artery disease or heart disease. The point is this: as research shows, there is a connection between gum disease and heart disease.

That just goes to show why taking care of your teeth and gums is a great step in also protecting yourself from heart attacks, heart disease, strokes, and more.

Good oral health helps to prevent pneumonia. Many people may not know that poor oral health habits in older adults has been linked with pneumonia. Good oral hygiene is a way to combat the kind of bacteria older adults want to avoid!

Good oral health can prevent—or help you manage—diabetes. When people have severe gum disease, the body’s ability to use insulin optimally can be impacted. In Type I diabetes, the body will not make enough insulin. On the contrary, in Type II diabetes, the body stops responding to insulin.

Gum disease is the most common dental disease affecting those living with diabetes, and it impacts nearly one in five people who have diabetes. As people age, poor blood sugar controls increases the risk for gum problems. When serious gum disease causes blood sugar to rise, you can see the vicious cycle at work, making diabetes harder to control and making people more susceptible to infection. Good oral health habits, especially in those with diabetes, is critical in preventing diabetes, or managing diabetes if you’ve already been diagnosed. 

How to Continue to Take Care of Your Oral Health as You Age

Let’s face it, the natural process of aging can put you at risk for dental problems.

But, knowing all these reasons to continue to take care of your teeth, here is what you should know about vulnerabilities as you age—and what you can do to prevent these complications or issues from happening or worsening:

Watch the dry mouth. As we age, we can become more at-risk for having dry mouth. The first thing you can do to combat dry mouth is to stay as hydrated with water as you can throughout the day!

But the dry mouth many people have as they get older can have many causes, and for some people, even drinking more water each day doesn’t do the trick. In fact, sometimes medications result in dry mouth and sometimes certain health issues or conditions can lead to try mouth.

Whatever the case may be, stay aware and let us know if your mouth seems dry…or just more dry than normal. After all, dry mouth can really accelerate dental health issues and can result in rapid tooth decay (1, 2).

Focus on consistency with your oral health habits to avoid gum disease. Your oral health routine is critical as you age, and that should come as no surprise.

Many older adults have gum, or periodontal disease, in part because it’s not always painful until it has progressed, or advanced, to that extent (1, 2). So how do you reduce the likelihood for gum disease?

Brush your teeth every day and always before bed; Remember to floss consistently, at least once per day; Stay hydrated with water to take advantage of how water can naturally rinse away food and sugars that stick to your teeth otherwise; Use a mouthwash or rinse we recommend; Focus on nutrient-rich foods and avoid processed foods which tend to have more sugar added.

Talk to us about your tooth sensitivity, especially if you feel it’s getting worse. There can be a number of reasons why your teeth are more sensitive to hot and cold when you’re older. In general, you may have gums that have pulled back from your teeth, and your root could be exposed in areas of your mouth.

We can recommend rinses, toothpastes, and even treatments to help you deal with tooth sensitivity. In some situations, you can even seal or bond the roots, if you decide that’s a route you want to go.

We’ll be watching your gum line, but keep the lines of communication open with us to manage any extreme tooth sensitivity that’s impacting your ability to enjoy the food and drinks you love.

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Keep your regular appointments with your dentist. Leaky dental filling or problematic dental fillings should be fixed right away and when you see us at least twice a year, we’re able to watch and help take care of such issues.

Plus, jaw-related issues or other problems in the mouth can also be spotted sooner, which can mean a world of difference in your mouth and for your overall health.

We’ll also be watching your gum recession and other issues you may have in the mouth each time you come in to see us. We can’t emphasize enough how important your regular dental check-up is with us, throughout your life!

Take advantage of options to manage your oral health. Yes, day in and day out habits are going to add up and help determine the state of your oral health.

But know that we can recommend certain products that will be a great fit for you based on any conditions you are at risk for. For example, if you feel like your teeth are more sensitive than ever, we can recommend sensitivity toothpaste and other options for you to help manage that issue.

Also, don’t forget that we have prescription strength fluoride rinses and gels, which are also options to help patients who may be at-risk for cavities or other specific issues. This can be a fit if you have crown or bridge work, or if there is decalcification on the teeth—just to name a few examples of where you can take advantage of special treatments and care to improve your oral health (1, 2).

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Make brushing easier (you just have to speak up!). When you’re young, often times flossing and brushing is a matter of wanting to take great care of your teeth.

In older adults, things like arthritis in the hands and fingers can make these habits more challenging, however.

Despite how that might be true, keeping up with dental health is critical in avoiding issues like tooth loss, uneven jawbones, root decay, gum disease, and darkened teeth. Ask us if you are having any trouble with brushing or flossing, since there are dental aids we can recommend that make brushing and dental care easier, especially for those with arthritis or any dexterity issues (1, 2.)

Dental Care at Hagen Dental Practice

Want to learn more about dental implants? Or maybe you are looking for options to help you take care of your teeth as you age, but you don’t know what that might include! No matter what, we treat you with kindness, compassion, and understanding at Hagen Dental! We are here to earn your trust with personalized, gentle care. Call (513) 251-5500 or click the Online Scheduling button to schedule your next visit.

Sources:

  1. https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/1-18-16-reasons-senior-dental-health-care-is-important/
  2. https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/oral-care-age-55-up/how-to-continue-oral-health-care-as-you-age-0814

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