How to Keep Your Teeth Fit with Age

Did you know that most Americans over the age of 65 have less than 21 teeth, and that 25% of them have no teeth at all? 

How to Keep Your Teeth Fit with Age
How to Keep Your Teeth Fit with Age

Most people think weak gums, loose teeth and tooth loss are inevitable as they get older, but the truth is far different. With proper dental care and a healthy diet, there’s no reason you shouldn’t head into retirement with a full set of pearly whites and strong gums!

Age and Oral Health: Caring for Teeth from the Start

Bad dental health – gum disease in particular – has been linked to conditions like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, dementia, osteoporosis, respiratory infections and more. General ill-health affects your oral wellbeing too, raising the risk of gum disease and tooth loss.

If you want to avoid embarrassing gaps, health risks and expensive dental treatment later in life, you need to start caring for your teeth and gums today.

Here’s what you could expect if you don’t make dental care a priority:

Tooth Discoloration – Tooth structure changes as you get older, and if you eat a lot of staining foods like wine or coffee, or smoke cigarettes, the surface of your teeth will become yellowed or stained over time.

Dry Mouth – Dry mouth becomes more common as you age, and causes various oral health issues. Changes in hormones, medical conditions like diabetes and even medication can affect saliva production.

Diminished Senses – Your senses of taste and smell may be affected by diseases, medication, lifestyle habits and other factors. Quit smoking, eat fresh foods and maintain good oral health if you want to retain them!

Tooth Decay – Caries (cavities) get worse if they’re left untreated, and could even affect the root of your teeth. If you don’t want to get extensive treatment later, work on preventing tooth decay now.

Gum Disease – The buildup of plaque and tartar can lead to bacterial infections, causing inflammation in the gums. This causes receding gums and eventual bone loss, which means your teeth aren’t secure.

Tooth Loss – Whether due to tooth decay, injury or gum disease, tooth loss is a common problem among seniors.

Protect Your Gums and Teeth for Years to Come

If you want to protect your teeth and gums, follow these tips:
1. Vitamin C – Increase your daily intake to 180mg. Vitamin C helps repair and maintain gum tissue, and is abundantly found in fresh fruits and vegetables (oranges, Brussels sprouts, peppers, guava, etc.).

2. Vitamin D – Get at least 600 IU (international units) daily if you’re under 70, and 800 IU if you’re older. Vitamin D helps your body absorb and retain calcium for better tooth and bone health, and may also fight bacteria!

3. Omega 3 – Take a fish oil supplement or eat nuts and fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon or mackerel). These may help with the healing of gum tissue and reduce your chances of developing gum disease.

4. Drink Tea – Reach out for a mug of black or green tea instead of coffee. These drinks are rich in antioxidants that fight plaque buildup, bad breath and infections. They also contain fluoride for tooth protection.

5. Crunchy Foods – Fresh, crunchy fruits and veggies (like apples or carrots) act like natural cleansers by dislodging food particles stuck between your teeth. Chewing them also promotes saliva production.

6. De-Stress – Stress is a silent killer, especially if it causes you to slide on your oral hygiene and dental care routine. Cortisol, a stress hormone, has been linked to weak immunity and aggravated symptoms of gum disease.

7. Kick the Butt – Smoking is a risk factor for a wide range of oral problems, right from gum disease to oral cancers. It also reduces the body’s ability to heal, which can affect the success of dental treatments!

8. Floss Daily – Floss your teeth every day to dislodge food particles and prevent plaque buildup. In fact, floss before you brush your teeth, since this ensures that any leftover particles get brushed away.

9. Teeth Cleaning – Visit your dentist for professional teeth cleaning, the only way to remove tartar effectively. Schedule a complete dental checkup and cleaning twice a year, to nip any problems in the bud.

Whether you’re heading into retirement or caring for a senior, make sure to maintain proper hygiene, address issues quickly and visit a dentist for regular checkups. Your dental hygiene and care routine can help keep the gaps out of that smile!

Author Bio: 
Amruta Patel is a warm and compassionate dentist caring for the community of San Antonio, TX. Dr. Patel attended Marquette University, where she received both her dental degree and her bachelor’s degree. Dr. Patel practices at All About Smiles, where she provides cosmetic braces, endodontic treatments, implants, and veneers, as well as basic general dental services. Outside of practicing dentistry, Dr. Patel enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs


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