Look after your teeth as you age

Looking after your teeth, whether natural or not, as you age is vital to both your oral health and overall health. Read on to find what you can do to protect your pearly whites.

Surveys show that 90% of adults have an average of 23.5 teeth. Almost a third of adults still have all 28 teeth, while 50% of those aged 55 and over wear partial or complete dentures.

Whether caring for original teeth or dentures, older adults face a range of special oral concerns. These include root decay and periodontal disease. You can keep your smile healthy with good oral care and by making regular visits to the dentist.

In addition to cavities, there are two types of decay that can accompany getting older. Root decay is caused by a receding gum line and too much root surface becoming exposed. Tooth decay may be caused by the weakening or chipping of older fillings. Both of these conditions may cause intense pain and can even result in the loss of the affected tooth.

Daily brushing and flossing will help to protect your smile from these two common problems in older teeth.

Nearly 75% of older adults from some form of periodontal or gum disease. Signs of this condition include red, swollen gums, pain when chewing, bleeding when brushing and a change in the way your teeth fit together when biting. Gum disease and the bacteria associated with it may contribute to some forms of oral cancer, heart disease and respiratory ailments, among others. However, gum disease can be completely reversible if caught in time.

For those with partial or full dentures, dental hygiene is still a major consideration. Dentures should be brushed daily with a soft toothbrush or denture cleaning brush, using a denture powder or paste, hand soap or baking soda.

Dentures should be brushed inside and out and rinsed with cool water. Remaining natural teeth and gums, especially those supporting a partial denture, should also be brushed. When not in use, dentures should be covered with water or a denture cleaning solution to prevent drying.

In addition to brushing, flossing and regular dental check-ups, many foods can help to build strong and healthy teeth and gums. Dairy products provide calcium and vitamin D for strengthening teeth and bones. Breads and cereals supply vitamin B for growth and iron for healthy blood, which in turn leads to healthy gum tissue. Fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C are also essential to maintaining healthy gums. Leans meat, fish, poultry and beans provide iron and protein for overall good health, and magnesium and zinc for teeth and bones.

It is recommended to brush your teeth twice each day for two minutes, and to floss at least once per day. Flossing removes plaque and food particles from hard-to-reach gaps between the teeth and under the gum line.

However, many older adults complain that they cannot use their toothbrush properly. If you have arthritis or limited use of your hands, try adapting your toothbrush for easy use. Insert the handle into a rubber ball, or glue it to a bicycle grip. Toothbrush handles can also be lengthened with a piece of wood or plastic such as a ruler. For people who have dexterity problems, an electric toothbrush may be easier to use than a manual toothbrush.

Call us here at Dental Care Partnership on 0121 354 1922 to book an appointment with one of our friendly team.