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Tuesday, Nov 29, 2016
How to Maintain Healthy Teeth as You Age
Posted by Carrie Cook

As the years march on, you might find yourself looking less and less like yourself. Skin can start to wrinkle and your gait might show the signs of old injuries, but there is one part of your body that you can keep looking young and beautiful at any age: your smile. Here are five tips for how to maintain healthy teeth as you age.

1. Focus On Preventive Care

In the war against dental decay, consistency matters. One of the keys to maintaining healthy teeth as you age is making preventive care a priority, which is why everyone should “brush up” on their daily oral hygiene routine.

In addition to brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing daily, the ADA recommends rinsing with a mouthwash that contains fluoride. Fluoride, which is a naturally occurring mineral found in drinking water and ADA recommended toothpastes, works by simultaneously strengthening the dental enamel and neutralizing the bacterial acids that can erode the teeth.

Seniors should also make it a priority to meet with their dentists regularly, since dentists can spot, diagnose, and treat dental health issues before they get out of control. With almost half of all Americans living with some form of periodontal disease, a focus on preventive care is crucial if you care about avoiding tooth loss.

2. Replace Those Missing Teeth

So what do you do if you have already lost teeth due to previous periodontal disease? Periodontists everywhere offer one resounding answer: get dental implants.

Your teeth are held in place by ligaments that attach to your jaw tissue. As you use your teeth, these ligaments pull against your natural bone, strengthening the area. Unfortunately, when your teeth go missing, your jaw tissue doesn’t receive this stimulation, and the bone can start to melt away. This process, known as resorption, happens quite rapidly, with jawbone tissue losing up to a quarter of its width within the first year. Unfortunately, bone loss does more than weaken your dental arch. When bone melts away, it can change the shape of your jaw and the contours of your face, giving you an aged look in a matter of months.

To avoid bone loss, replace those missing teeth with dental implants as soon as possible. Dental implants have been shown to arrest bone loss, since they are anchored into your jaw tissue like your natural teeth.

3. Eat Right and Exercise

Taking care of your body can do more than help you to squeeze into your old jeans. When you eat right, you are giving your body the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals it needs to stay healthy and strong—and to keep your teeth beautiful. In addition, when you exercise, blood flow increases throughout your body, helping your tissues to heal themselves.

Research has shown that there is a significant connection between diet, exercise, and overall oral health. In fact, one study found that people who exercised regularly were 54% less likely to have periodontal disease compared to their peers who chose not to exercise. Further studies have shown that people with lower body mass indexes are less likely to struggle with gum disease and periodontal disease.

If you are concerned about your aging smile, do yourself a favor and improve your diet and exercise routine. Talk with your family doctor about what you need to do to improve your overall health, and work everyday to become a healthier you. Also, look for the best dentists in your area to talk to about your oral health. It might be hard at first, but taking care of your body can help you to enjoy a more beautiful smile.

4. Chew Gum

Your spit plays a more important role in dental health than you may think. Saliva is responsible for rinsing away food particles and sugary residue, and it also carries minerals that neutralize bacterial acids, protecting you from dental decay.

Unfortunately, over time, your body tends to produce less saliva. This problem is exacerbated by poor hydration and even by certain medications, which is another reason that older people typically tend to have higher rates of oral decay.

Fortunately, you can boost your saliva production by chewing a piece of gum. Research has shown that chewing a stick of sugar-free gum can increase saliva levels by as much as ten times the resting rate, helping your mouth to clean itself and fight off bacteria. In fact, the benefits of chewing gum are achieved after chewing for only 20 minutes, which is why everyone should consider popping a stick of the sugar-free stuff after a meal.

5. Monitor Your Overall Health

When it comes to your oral health, your overall health matters a lot. Health problems can do everything from impact your healing to hindering your mobility, making it difficult to keep your teeth shiny, white, and healthy. With over 120 serious systemic conditions showing symptoms in the mouth, it is crucial to meet with your dentist and your family doctor regularly for checkups.

If you are interested in keeping your teeth healthy and beautiful, search for a dentist in your area by typing “find a dentist near me” into your favorite search engine bar.

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