Just 60 years ago, it was assumed that as we age we would lose our natural teeth. But, that’s not the case for today’s older adults who are keeping their natural teeth longer than ever before. A healthy mouth and teeth help you look good, eat delicious and nutritious foods, and speak clearly and confidently. Being mouth healthy is essential for good quality of life.
Dentists often say that your mouth is the gateway to your body. Maintaining good oral health habits now is especially important because unhealthy bacteria in the mouth not only can harm your teeth and gums but may be associated with serious medical conditions. Research has shown that infection s in the mouth may be associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pneumonia and other health problems that are common in older adults. It really only takes a few simple steps to be mouth healthy for life:
- brush and floss daily
- visit your dentist regularly (not just when you have an emergency)
- eat nutritious foods
Common Myths of the Aging Mouth and Teeth
- Everyone needs dentures at some point. Good news! That is not true. Approximately 75% of those Americans over age 65 have kept all or some of their teeth.
- Dry mouth is unpleasant but it doesn’t pose a risk to my teeth.Not true. One common cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Your dentist can make recommendations to help relieve dry mouth symptoms and prevent cavities.
- An electric toothbrush provides superior cleaning to a manual toothbrush. Not necessarily. Proper technique and use of a manual toothbrush twice a day, along with regular flossing can provide excellent results. Sometimes older people find an electric toothbrush helpful if they have dexterity issues such as arthritis which prevents proper and thorough brushing.
- It’s not important that the dentist knows I have a heart problem or joint replacement. If you have a heart condition or artificial joint, be sure to tell your dentist. That’s because there are some heart conditions with a high risk of infection from dental procedures, and an antibiotic is recommended. The same is true if you have artificial joints. Dentists follow recommendations that have been developed by the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in cooperation with the American Dental Association. Talk to your dentist about how these recommendations might apply to you.
Visit with your dentist and hygienist about what you can do to increase the odds of enjoying a healthy smile all your life!