You Are Never Too Old To Improve Your Oral Health Habits
Oral healthcare in our senior years
The older we get, the harder it can feel when it comes to making big changes in our lives. For some, this may be about insecurity in doing so, whilst for others it may simply be that they have arrived at a time in their life where they are perfectly happy where they are.
It is always good to have some challenges in our lives though, even if they are minor ones. To help with this, the team at the Clock Tower Dental Clinic have set out a fun challenge to our older patients to see if they can improve the health of their teeth and gums.
Not just about appearance
Some of our older patients may feel less concerned with the way that their teeth look now than they used to be. Not everybody feels this way of course, and cosmetic dentistry is popular with our older as well as younger patients. For those who are less concerned about the appearance of their teeth though, this could also lead to relaxing their teeth cleaning habits.
Whilst there are certainly aesthetic benefits to be had from good quality brushing, the key reason for cleaning our teeth is to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. If we believe that we brush for aesthetic purposes only, we will also then leave our teeth and gums less healthy than they should be.
Problems caused by poor cleaning and care
The most obvious problem that occurs if you don’t clean your teeth well enough is that you are liable to suffer from tooth decay. Whatever age you are, a toothache can be very painful, and, at the present time, will very likely to be untreatable until practices are able to open again. Cavities will also weaken a tooth and potentially put it at a greater risking of breaking than when it can be filled straight away.
Tooth loss is not unusual in older people, although not inevitable. Years of gradual wear and tear are likely to have an effect and whilst losing any teeth is undesirable, replacements for the odd missing tooth means that you can eat and smile as you normally would. Too much neglect though can lead to multiple tooth loss and this can mean that you may find eating certain foods more difficult than usual, taking away much of the enjoyment.
Whilst our Epsom dental practice can replace missing teeth with dentures or dental implants, a little more care in brushing and flossing your teeth could prevent the need for these procedures altogether.
Gingivitis and periodontitis are more prevalent in older people. This isn’t only due to potentially poorer cleaning, but also that you produce less saliva as you get older. This means that bacteria and food particles are not washed away as easily. As bacteria builds up, our gums may start to become sore and inflamed, and in some cases may also bleed. Not only is this unpleasant, but it can have devastating consequences. When gum disease occurs and is not treated quickly enough, it can lead to an advanced form known as periodontitis. When it has reached this stage, the supporting bone tissue can become compromised and less able to hold our teeth in place. This can lead to our teeth becoming wobbly and they may even fall out.
Foul smelling breath is also likely as the bacteria expel gases as they feed off the sugar and food particles that we have failed to remove. This can cause further isolation at an age when some people find their social circle to be shrinking already.
All of the above can be avoided or at least minimised if you take care to improve how you look after your teeth. Even if you don’t really care about how your teeth look, do make sure to brush them well for at least two minutes twice a day. Make sure too, to clean the gums and not just the teeth. Use dental floss to clean in between your teeth. Food and bacterial deposits collect here and are difficult to remove by brushing alone. A little practice with dental floss will mean that you can soon do this quickly and effectively and help keep your teeth and gums healthier.
Although you can’t do so at the moment; once our practice is open again and some sort of normality starts to return, we recommend that you see our dental hygienist for a thorough professional clean known as a ‘scale and polish’. This will remove built up bacteria and mineral deposits from your teeth and gum line. We generally recommend that this is done every six months, though for some patients, more frequently is advisable.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, improving your oral health is always a goal worth aiming for and hopefully you will you take up our challenge!
We are currently unable to offer routine or cosmetic dentistry due to the Covid-19 virus. However, if you are in need of urgent attention, please call the Clock Tower Dental Practice on 01372 720136 and you will be offered advice on what steps to take next.