Aging and Dental Care: What You Need to Know
We often struggle with dental issues such as tooth decay, but these issues can cause an even bigger problem as we age.
That’s why it is important to take care of your teeth early on, to prevent bigger problems later.
Tooth brushing tips for older adults
The bathroom sink isn’t the only place you can brush your teeth. Brushing can be done anywhere with a towel and some water. Do whatever keeps you comfortable so that you can keep brushing a part of your daily routine.
When brushing your teeth, there is only really one critical item, your toothbrush. Toothpaste gives you the fresh, minty, feeling and provides fluoride. However, the purpose of brushing is to remove plaque build-up and food. That is the toothbrush’s job, which is why it is the most critical item.
Consequently, it’s important to choose the right toothbrush for you. Start by getting soft bristles and a nice grip. If you prefer a larger grip, try a kid-sized toothbrush or an electric toothbrush. Once you’ve found the right toothbrush, brush your teeth properly by brushing gently along the gum line. Next, check between the cheeks and teeth for food remains.
How to care for your smile as you age
Oral health is tied to your overall health and your quality of life. As we age, we come across more dental issues such as tooth loss, receding gums, and dry mouth.
The first step to maintaining a healthy smile was mentioned above—daily brushing with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Again, brush your teeth twice a day to remove all plaque and food build-up from the surface of your teeth. Then, brush in a circular motion from the gums to the tips of the teeth. Spend at least 120 seconds when brushing to be sure you cover all surfaces.
Dry mouth is an issue you’ll want to avoid. This happens when you don’t produce enough saliva. This is often a side-effect of medications. Consequences of dry mouth include food sticking (or feeling like it’s sticking) and difficulty swallowing. Often, because of these issues, seniors turn to eating softer foods such as breads, cookies, and candies. Unfortunately, these foods put your teeth at a higher risk of cavities. Therefore, it is important to brush your teeth at least once during the day and clean between teeth by flossing or using a floss alternative.
Flossing can become more difficult as you age so here is some advice to make flossing easier.
The proper way to floss starts with approximately 18 inches of floss around your middle fingers. Hold the floss with your pointer finger and thumb and put the floss between your teeth. Create a “C” shape with the floss around the side of your tooth and move the floss up and down against both sides of each tooth. Before moving to the next tooth, move to a fresh section of the floss.
If flossing is too difficult for you, there are alternatives. These include interdental brushes, floss picks, water flossers, and floss threaders. These are simple devices created to make flossing easier so you can keep it a part of your daily oral routine.
The bottom line is that while aging can make dental care more challenging, it is ultimately, still critical that you take care of your oral health as diligently as possible.