As we pass middle age, various health issues start to take center stage; it’s easy to take the care of your teeth for granted. But your teeth still need your full attention to keep you from joining the one-quarter of all Americans 65 and over who are missing all of their teeth. Here are some tips from Dr. Steier for her older patients.
Don’t forget the fluoride
You may think fluoride is just a kids’ thing in those “cavity-prone” years, but it’s important for all human teeth…forever. Older people have an increased risk for cavities, particularly around older fillings. Also, your enamel slowly thins as we age. Remember, fluoride helps keep your teeth mineralized, which is the key to fighting off the bacteria trying to get decay started on your teeth. So, use fluoride toothpaste, and don’t be shy about drinking that fluoridated water. If you’ve got a couple of cavities in the past couple of years, Dr. Steier can even give you one of those tasty fluoride treatments you may remember from your youth.
It’s not that simply being older automatically means you have a dramatically increased chance of developing a dry mouth. But some facets of aging can increase your risk. Taking regular medications or certain chronic conditions can increase your risk for dry mouth. And with dry mouth comes an increased risk for cavities and decay issues. If you wear dentures, dry mouth can affect the quality of their fit.
So, what can you do? Use a “moisturizing” mouthwash or dry mouth spray. Chew sugar-free gum, as it encourages saliva production. You can use an “artificial saliva” product; these products have ingredients that closely mimic your real saliva.
Be nice to your dentures
If you have dentures, take care of them as diligently as you would natural teeth. Clean them with a denture-specific toothpaste (regular toothpaste are too abrasive), and be sure you clean them every day. And don’t forget to use a soft toothbrush on your gums and tongue to remove any bacteria and food particles.
Finally, your twice-yearly professional cleanings and exams with Dr. Steier are just as important in old age as in your youth. Call us at our Boca Raton offices to make an appointment, (561) 395-3190.