A Healthy Smile Can Last a
in your age group are living longer, healthier lives than
before. You probably feel good and enjoy an active
lifestyle. It only makes sense, then, to try to stay
Unfortunately, too many older adults ignore an
important part of their general health — their oral
health. Some mistakenly feel that tooth loss is inevitable
in later years. Others do not understand how oral health
contributes to total well-being.
Whatever your age, it's easy to keep your mouth clean,
healthy, and feeling good. All it usually takes is your
own daily effort combined with regular professional care.
Here are some of the things modern dentistry can do
Dental decay can be treated quickly and
comfortably — and can often be prevented with help from
the newer fluoride products and artificial saliva's now on
the market. The causes of tooth decay are the same for
everyone, regardless of age. However, because root surface
decay is more prevalent among older adults, it's
especially important to brush twice a day with a fluoride
toothpaste. It's also
necessary to clean between your teeth daily with floss or
other interdental cleaners, and see your dentist
regularly. If you do experience root decay, new bonding
techniques can match restorations to the color of your
natural teeth as well as protect non-decayed root surfaces
that are exposed by receding gums. (See also: Oral
If you experience
dry mouth due to a medical
condition or certain medications, it can be alleviated
with an artificial saliva recommended by your dentist.
Whatever the cause, the effects of dry mouth can be
devastating. Saliva is needed to lubricate the mouth, wash
food away from around the teeth, and neutralize the
decay-causing acids produced by plaque bacteria.
Newer diagnostic and treatment methods can help prevent
periodontal (gum) disease or halt its progress.
Symptoms of this disease include bleeding and tender gums,
constant bad breath, receding gums, and loose teeth.
Because gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss in
adults, proper oral hygiene at home and professional care
are essential. You can help your teeth last a lifetime! (See
If arthritis, stroke or some other
decreases your ability to brush and floss ( important
tools in the fight against tooth decay and gum disease ) you dentist can suggest adaptive devices to help you.
These include extenders for toothbrush handles, specially
designed floss holders, and other interdental cleaners.
Regular visits to the dentist do more than keep your
teeth and gums healthy. Your dentist is specially trained
to recognize the early signs of oral cancer, adverse
drug interactions, and a host of systemic diseases
whose symptoms are reflected in the mouth, such as
diabetes, leukemia and anemia.
If you wear
dentures, regular dental
examinations are important to make sure your dentures
continue to fit properly and look attractive. For some
people, another option for replacing one or more missing
teeth is a dental implant, which permanently attaches
replacement teeth to the gums or jawbone.
Following a program of good oral care can greatly
contribute to your overall
nutrition and general
well-being. You'll be able to chew more easily, digest
food better, and enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods.
Maintaining good oral health is ultimately your
responsibility. By practicing daily oral hygiene at home,
eating nutritious meals, and making regular dental visits,
you will help ensure that your mouth stays healthy. A
bright, healthy smile can make you feel and look good —
throughout your life!