As you age, your mouth changes. You become less sensitive to cavities and other oral health problems because the nerves in your teeth shrink. Your gums become more susceptible to infection, due to the soft tissues in your mouth thinning and becoming less hydrated and elastic. Despite these shifts, however, you can keep your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime if you properly care for them. Here are some tips from your Albuquerque dentist, Dr. Mark Miller, for maintaining optimal oral health as you age.
Brush at Least Twice a Day
Choose a brush with soft bristles and gently brush your teeth to remove the film of bacteria that builds up on them each day. Brush two times a day, for about two minutes each time, and be sure to cover all of your teeth, front, back, and top. Avoid brushing aggressively, because it could erode enamel and lead to tooth sensitivity. If you have arthritis, consider using an electric toothbrush for thorough cleaning. Also, use a fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash. Adult teeth can only benefit from topical fluoride, so drinking fluoridated tap water does not help your teeth fight decay.
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, flossing removes plaque from between the teeth and below the gumline, where gum disease and tooth decay often originate. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a chronic bacterial infection of the gum tissue and bone that support the teeth, is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. If you have trouble flossing, ask us about alternatives that will help prevent periodontal disease.
Quit Using Tobacco Products
Any use of tobacco products, even the smokeless kind, puts you at a greater risk for gum disease. Smoking also inhibits the body’s natural healing processes, so treating gum disease can be more difficult if you smoke.
Attend Six-Month Dental Checkups
Come in every six months so that we can address any oral health issues you may have before they become a serious problem. Regular dental visits are especially important as you age, because you are at a higher risk of developing chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis, heart disease, and diabetes, and gum disease contributes to these health issues. Recent research suggests that the symptoms of these illnesses may initially appear in the mouth, making dentists an integral part of the diagnosis. In some cases, the dentist is the first health professional to observe a symptom.
If you have further questions about oral health and aging, or if you would like to schedule an appointment, please call our 87112 dentist office at (507) 299-2979. We serve patients from Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Corrales, Los Lumas, Tijeras, Mountain Air, Santa Fe, and Taos.