As you age, your oral health often changes. If you don’t take care of your teeth and gums, you can experience oral health problems that could lead to serious medical problems, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, cancer, or respiratory infections. A report from the CDC shows rates of oral cancer peak after age 60. And yet nearly 40% of older adults haven't seen a dentist in the past year. That percentage holds even for people who are experiencing pain due to a tooth or gum issue.
Reasons why you should take care of your teeth as you age:
1.Gum disease – Your gums naturally recede as you age, exposing tooth surfaces and roots to bacteria that can cause decay. Regular dental exams and teeth cleaning, as well as daily toothbrushing, flossing and using a non-alcoholic fluoride mouth rinse, will help keep decay under control. Your dentist also may also recommend deep cleaning of your teeth to remove plaque that can develop under your gums.
2.Dry mouth – Some medications, along with age, can slow the production of saliva and cause dry mouth. Saliva keeps your mouth moist and naturally washes tooth surfaces to remove food particles that can lead to decay. To keep it flowing, drink water throughout the day, chew sugar-free gum and avoid using mouth rinse that contains alcohol because it can dry oral tissues.
3.Brittle teeth – As you age, tooth enamel can become brittle and crack. Protect your teeth by choosing foods that are easy to chew, and avoid biting hard substances, such as crusty bread, ice chips, and popcorn hulls. If you experience pain while eating foods or drinking beverages, contact your dentist.
4.Plaque – Arthritis and other medical conditions can attack your fingers, creating difficulties when using a toothbrush or flossing your teeth. If this is a problem you experience, talk to your dentist about using floss picks or water flossers to keep plaque under control.