With advances in dentistry and oral care products, and a more widespread understanding of what it takes to look after teeth and gums, more people are keeping their teeth as they get older. However, older adults often face additional dental problems, which is why it is more important than ever to maintain a high standard of oral hygiene.
How does prescribed medication affect my teeth and gums?
As you get older, the amount of saliva that you produce tends to decrease. In addition some medications, or illnesses, may cause a reduction in the amount of saliva present in your mouth. This is called “dry mouth” or xerostomia, which can cause an increased risk of tooth decay.
Saliva is the mouth’s built-in defense against the development of harmful plaque because it washes away the acids that are produced when plaque interacts with sugar, in the things you eat and drink. Less saliva inhibits this process and, therefore, puts your teeth at greater risk for decay.
Dry mouth can also cause an increase in gum problems.
You can overcome “dry mouth” by using artificial saliva products which can lubricate the mouth during, and after meals. In addition, your dentist may recommend a range of home care products that will make your teeth more resistant to decay.
How does a lifetime of brushing affect my teeth and gums?
As you get older, the chances are that your gums will start to recede – this makes the teeth appear longer. This process will start to expose the root of the tooth, which can cause an increased risk of tooth decay, called root caries and can cause dentin hypersensitivity.
A thorough daily oral care routine, which includes brushing and flossing, plus regular fluoride treatments, administered by your dentist, can help make your teeth more resistant to decay and can help alleviate the pain associated with sensitive teeth.
How will a change in my diet affect my oral health?
Often, as you get older, your eating and drinking habits alter, which may involve an increased consumption of sugary snacks and drinks. Try to keep frequent snacking to a minimum since this will reduce the amount of times your teeth come under attack from plaque acids, thereby reducing the risk of tooth decay.
Provided as an educational service by Oral B Laboratories.