How To Maintain Good Dental Health As You Age
Your teeth are one of the most important things that you can protect as you age. While many people believe that dry mouth and tooth loss are inevitable parts of aging, this is not true, and it is very possible to prevent these problems. Here are some tips that can help you maintain good dental health for years to come.
Protect Your Teeth From Sensitivity
As you age, your gums will begin to recede from your teeth and your jawbone will shrink slightly. Normally these changes are mild to moderate and are not enough to cause tooth loss, but they can begin to expose the roots of your teeth. When the roots are exposed, it can lead to painful sensitivity.
Over time, you may also begin to experience increased sensitivity in teeth that have had fillings, as plaque can build up around the filling where softer enamel and dentin are exposed beneath it. The most effective way to protect your teeth from increased sensitivity is to use a fluoride rinse at least once a day. Rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash relieves sensitivity by helping to remove plaque buildup and prevent future decay. You can also try brushing with desensitizing toothpaste or applying the toothpaste directly to your sensitive teeth before bed without rinsing afterward.
Be Wary of Dry Mouth
While dry mouth may not sound like a serious dental health problem, excessive dry mouth should not be taken lightly. In addition to minor discomfort and difficulty swallowing, the absence of saliva puts you at a significantly greater risk for tooth decay and tissue infection in the mouth. Dry mouth can occur as a side effect of blood pressure medications, antidepressants, painkillers, and several other drugs. It can also be a symptom of health conditions like Parkinson's disease, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS.
Minor cases of dry mouth can be resolved without any major lifestyle changes while still greatly decreasing the risks to your dental health. Simply drinking water more often or using a mouth rinse two to three times daily is often enough to solve the problem. For more extreme cases of dry mouth, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor so that he can change your prescriptions that are causing dry mouth. If changing prescriptions is not an option, the doctor can prescribe medications that stimulate saliva production to counteract the dry mouth side effect.
Have Regular Oral Cancer Exams
Even if you are not a regular tobacco user, the chances of developing oral cancer increase as you age. According to data collected by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the incidence of oral cancer for patients of both genders increases from 8.7 percent between the ages of 40 and 49 to 21.7 percent between 50 and 59. The rate of incidence continues to rise until it plateaus around 40 percent above the age of 70.
Pain is not a common early symptom of oral cancer, so the only way to reliably catch the disease in its early stages is to have regular oral cancer exams performed by your dentist. Your doctor will look for a few specific symptoms during this exam that are early indicators of the disease, such as swelling or sores in the mouth and difficulty chewing or moving your tongue. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible so that he can determine the cause.
Protecting your teeth as you age requires a few extra precautions, but brushing and flossing daily are still the most important things you can do to protect your teeth. Talk with a dentist ,at a clinic like Schererville Family Dentistry, PC, about your dental health concerns so that he can give you details about how to maintain strong, healthy teeth for a lifetime.