Saturday, January 11, 2014

Keeping Healthy Teeth As You Grow Older

Proper dental care is important at any age, but as you get older, your lifestyle and history of dental hygiene really starts to have an impact on oral health. In addition, with old age often come a myriad of health problems which can complicate dental care and put you at higher risk for certain conditions. A few issues to watch out for as you age include:

· Dry mouth, which can be caused by numerous medications or other health problems. Aside from being annoying in and of itself, a lack of saliva deprives your mouth of its natural weapon against debris and bacteria.

· Tooth decay can be caused by dry mouth, unhealthy diet, or an inability to brush/floss properly. Any small signs of decay that you may have ignored in earlier life are likely to worsen as you get older.

· Gum disease in the elderly often stems from loss in dexterity which makes it more difficult to brush and floss.

· Cheilosis and stomatitis are infections of the mouth commonly caused by ill-fitting dentures. Even at an advanced age, the teeth and jaw can change shape slightly over time, meaning dentures that fit for a while may not always feel so comfortable.

· Oral cancers, as with most cancers, have a higher occurrence rate in older people. Be on the lookout for red or white patches on the soft tissues of your mouth, sores that won't heal, difficulty swallowing, and unexplained loose teeth.

While not a physical symptom, a lack of access to affordable dental care causes many problems for elderly people as well. If you're living on a fixed income or have difficulty arranging transportation to the dentist, it may be tempting to skip your regularly scheduled checkups. However, this can prove more costly in the long run as your dentist can catch many of the above conditions before they become severe and need expensive and/or invasive treatment.

What can you do?

Fortunately, there are many steps you can take as you grow older to help keep your teeth and gums as healthy as can be.

· Try an electric toothbrush if it's become too hard to hold a regular toothbrush and/or maneuver it around your mouth. An electric brush can provide just as much cleaning power as a regular brush, and will do a lot of the scrubbing work for you.

· Stop smoking if you've taken up the habit at some point. The older you get, the less resilient your mouth's tissues become to toxins like cigarette smoke.

· Use a flossing tool to help you reach all the nooks and crannies in your mouth if you have a difficult time holding regular floss. There are many flossers available on the market, and your dentist can help recommend one that suits your needs.

· Clean your dentures daily if you wear them; even though they're artificial teeth, any debris or bacteria that remain on dentures can inflame or infect your mouth tissues if not taken care of. It's also recommended to remove dentures at night.

· See your dentist regularly. Even though it can be a hassle and may seem like an unpleasant task, regular dental visits are even more important as you grow older to ensure your teeth stay in good shape as long as possible.

A healthy lifestyle enthusiast, F.R. writes about keeping our bodies and oral health in prime condition. Look for similar topics from a top Arlington (TX) dentist - team dentist for the Texas Rangers. His specialty is creating beautiful, healthy smiles using stress-free care in a comfortable environment, so consider visiting this dentist in Arlington, Texas.
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