One of the aspects of aging that people fear the most is losing their teeth. People are only continuing to live longer, and your teeth have to be able to keep up with that increased life expectancy. Luckily, with improved technology, that’s becoming much more manageable, but it all starts with your own oral hygiene routines. As you reach that point in between the ages of 40 and 60, it’s crucial to the health of your teeth that you understand common dental health concerns that affect your age group, and how to handle them to best set yourself up for the coming years. Keeping your original teeth plays a big part in ensuring that as you age, your quality of life remains the same. So what are the concerns, and how can you address them?
One of the most common things to watch out for as your teeth age is dry mouth. Many medications state dry mouth as a side effect, and while you definitely need the benefits of the medication, you should also ensure that it’s not ruining your oral health at the same time. When you have dry mouth, you have less saliva to wash out debris and bacteria in your mouth, which raises your risk for cavities.
To prevent dry mouth, make sure that you’re drinking a lot of water, and you might also try chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless hard candies to get saliva flowing. If you already have dry mouth, and can’t seem to shake it, you should talk to your dentist, as he or she may be able to recommend a good mouthwash or suggest a change in your oral hygiene routine that might help.
Unfortunately, once you turn 40, your risk for oral cancer goes up. It’s a good idea to make sure that you schedule regular screenings. Many dentists incorporate an oral screening into your regular cleaning, but it’s important to ask. Pain isn’t always a symptom of oral cancer, so that’s why most dentists recommend regular screenings.
As you age, your gums begin to recede, exposing the roots of your teeth, and making your teeth considerably more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. The roots of your teeth house all kinds of nerves, so when they’re exposed, foods and drinks that are warm or cold will seem much more extreme to you.
Thanks to modern technology, this is an issue that is easily addressed. You might try some over-the-counter solutions, like a desensitizing toothpaste or mouthwash, or you might talk to your dentist. Most dentists are able to administer a desensitizing treatment that will dull the feelings of pain you may experience with cold or hot foods.
You should be especially diligent in regards to your gums. Like we already mentioned, they’ll begin to recede as you age, but they’re also a major indicator of bigger issues. Gum infections are painful, but more than that, they can point to more serious health concerns. Additionally, as you age, your immune system weakens, and any diseases that start in your mouth are certain to spread to the rest of your body if you don’t take care of them properly. So make sure you pay attention to any kind of gum pain or swelling you may experience, and treat it right away.
In addition to the recession of your gums, as you age your tooth enamel gets more and more worn down. The combination of these two factors makes your teeth much more susceptible to cavities. At this point, it is very important that you keep up on your oral hygiene routine. This means the regular brushing that you already do, plus regular daily flossing. You might also consider a fluoride rinse if you’re on well water, or make sure you’re drinking city water, which usually has fluoride in it. Fluoride is a really good way to keep your teeth as strong as possible.
In the same vein, this is not the time to brush off tooth pain as a minor issue. Since your teeth are at a higher risk for cavities, you should see the dentist as soon as you start experiencing any kind of sharp pain or even dull throbs in your teeth. You’re looking to keep as many teeth as possible right? That means getting cavities filled right when they start, rather than waiting until it’s too late, and having teeth pulled. As you get closer to 60, you’ll probably want to start scheduling your dentist appointments closer to every 6 months to keep up on any potential issues.
If you’re in the 40-60 age range, and have questions regarding a proper oral hygiene routine for your age, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Mogren! Tooth care doesn’t have to be difficult, and we can help you with any tooth pain or concerns you may be having. Just give our office a call at 231-737-5500 or schedule your own appointment online today!