A couple decades ago, dentures were just considered a natural part of aging, but it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. Today it’s possible to go into your golden years with healthy, strong teeth, and maintaining good oral health is also essential for preserving function, being able to eat well, and even preventing other health problems. Here’s a closer look at a few of the common senior dental myths, as well as some helpful dental health tips seniors can follow to keep their teeth and gums healthy as they age.
Top Myths About Aging Teeth
Unfortunately, there are several myths surrounding aging teeth that can be big barriers to senior dental care. Some of the myths about aging teeth include:
- Myth #1 – Cavities are Only for Kids – Cavities don’t only occur in children. Seniors are keeping their natural teeth longer these days, which means they’re at risk for cavities. This means you need to take measures to prevent cavities, which includes brushing, flossing, and routine professional cleanings.
- Myth #2 – If There’s No Pain You’re Okay – Many aging adults think their teeth are fine as long as they don’t have any pain. Older patients often don’t notice dental pain right away and may keep putting off visits to the dentist because it doesn’t hurt very much. Routine checkups are a must, since waiting until something gets really painful can result in the need for costlier procedures.
- Myth #3 – You Should Brush Less if Gums are Bleeding – If your gums are bleeding, it is a sign of infection and that your oral hygiene isn’t the best. However, this doesn’t mean you should brush less. You need to keep brushing regularly until the bleeding stops and gums get healthier.
- Myth #4 – Teeth Get Softer with Age – Teeth don’t naturally get softer as you age. If you’re teeth are soft or breaking up, you have decay or periodontal disease.
Senior Dental Health Tips
The good news – you can keep your teeth in great shape as you age. Here are a few senior dental health tips to help you keep teeth healthy and beautiful into your golden years.
- Tip #1 – Make Sure You’re Hydrated – As you grow older, you have a higher risk for dry mouth. This often occurs due to the side effects of certain medications, and your saliva glands may not be producing as much saliva as you grow older. Dry mouth can increase your risk of tooth decay, so it’s important to manage your problem by drinking plenty of water and avoiding caffeinated beverages and alcohol, which can cause dehydration. If you continue to have chronic dry mouth, be sure to talk to your dentist or physician.
- Tip #2 – Pay Attention to Your Diet – Make sure you’re getting plenty of calcium and protein, since they’re both important to your dental health. Eating plenty of veggies and fruits while avoiding foods high in sugar is also important.
- Tip #3 – Remember Routine Brushing and Flossing – You already know that brushing and flossing is important, but with a large portion of Americans losing multiple teeth by the time they reach age 50, it’s so important to make sure you’re brushing and flossing regularly to keep your smile healthy. Make sure you’re using a soft-bristled toothbrush and talk to your dentist about the best toothpaste for your needs.
- Tip #4 – Avoid Using Tobacco Products – Tobacco products only increase your risk of having dental problems. Avoid using them at all to improve your oral health as you grow older.
- Tip #5 – Head in for Routine Cleanings and Checkups – One of the most important senior dental health tips is to make sure you head in to your dentist for routine cleanings and checkups. Routine checkups can ensure that any oral health problems are caught before they turn into bigger problems. In fact, many oral health problems can be prevented by making sure you keep up with those bi-annual dental checkups.
As you grow older, it’s important to make sure that you’re taking care of your oral health. Your oral health plays a big part in your overall health, so make sure you take measures to keep your mouth health as you head into your golden years.