A healthy smile at 20 usually doesn’t look the same as a healthy smile at 60. Here’s what having a healthy smile means as you age.
Prevention is Key
The damage you do to your teeth is often irreversible. You can fill a cavity, but there’s no bringing back your natural enamel. And once your gums start receding, they won’t be coming back. That’s why prevention is so important. As you age, your teeth naturally weaken and are exposed to more and more stress. The worse off your teeth are when you enter old age, the harder it will be to take care of them.
Keeping Up With Dental Maintenance
Besides going to the dentist, what’s the best way to keep up with dental maintenance? Routine brushing and flossing. Let’s go over some healthy brushing habits:
- Don’t brush too hard. Too much pressure and friction will damage your enamel. To get an idea of what’s appropriate, pretend that you’re brushing a soft tomato.
- Brush for at least two minutes. And keep in mind that your average toothbrush can only clean one or two teeth at a time. Don’t assume you’re getting them all with every stroke.
- Make sure you brush your tongue after you finish your teeth. Otherwise, plaque and bacteria can remain on the tongue and spread throughout the mouth.
Dental Care in Your Youth
Healthy habits start young. The way you treat your teeth as a teenager and young adult can have a lifelong impact on your dental health. If you develop and maintain good dental hygiene then you can keep all of your teeth and have a healthy smile well into your golden years. In your youth, you should be visiting the dentist at least twice a year. You should also get fluoride treatments to strengthen your enamel.
Dental Care at Mid-Age
As an adult, your teeth might not be as pearly white as they once were. That’s natural. But they can still be healthy. You should maintain regular visits to the dentist even as you enter adulthood. Depending on your oral health and dental hygiene habits, you may only need one visit a year. But you should still make an attempt to go at least once a year no matter what. You should also keep up with regular brushing and flossing. At this point in your life, dental care is much the same as when you were young.
Dental Care as a Senior
The most important part of dental care as a senior is addressing problems early. At this age, your body is less able to repair damage and fight off infection. If you notice any of the following signs, schedule an appointment with your dentist right away:
- Tooth or gum pain that doesn’t go away
- Inflamed gums
- A sore in your mouth that won’t heal
- Increased sensitivity to heat or cold
Otherwise, continue to maintain healthy dental habits like brushing and flossing. If you have dentures or dental implants, make sure you follow your dentist’s instructions on how to care for them.
Using Flouride For Protection
You typically only get fluoride treatments when you’re young, but that doesn’t mean fluoride stops being useful. Even adults and seniors can benefit from fluoride. If you have city water, then you’re getting some fluoride through that. You should also be buying toothpaste and mouthwash with flouride in it. There’s no recommended amount that you need to keep up with. As long as you’re getting some via brushing and drinking then you’ll see the benefits.
Medication and Dental Health
One final note. It’s not uncommon to find yourself on a pretty intense regimen of medications as you get older. Some of these medications can interfere with your dental health. For example, medication that dries out your mouth is going make it harder to keep that healthy smile. That’s because your saliva has a very important job: clearing food debris from the mouth and neutralizing the acid created by plaque. When starting a new medication, you should always discuss the potential side-effects and how they can impact your dental health with your doctor.
Regular visits to your dentist are key for maintaining oral health. Book an appointment with Dr. Caven today.