Aging Well with Oral Care
Improper oral care can negatively impact your daily quality of life. Your mouth is the gateway to your gut health. An unhealthy mouth – caused by not brushing and flossing, eating a healthy diet, and missing yearly exams – can result in major health problems.
Keeping your teeth as long as possible leads to better aging and all-around better health. Worried about looking older? The structure of your jaw and facial shape stay as long as you keep your original teeth. Partials and dentures are not a good substitute because they may not completely fill the space where your natural teeth were, causing bone loss or collapse.
Medications commonly used by seniors for conditions like asthma, high blood pressure, and depression – as well as Rx painkillers, diuretics, and antihistamines – can contribute to premature tooth decay because of the side effect of dry mouth. Without adequate saliva secretions to protect your teeth, excess harmful bacteria form plaque. Dry mouth also causes bad breath; and once your dry mouth is a chronic problem, it may only take 3 months to form new cavities.
Calcium Channel Blockers, or Anti-Seizure medications, may cause red, puffy, inflamed gums which in turn can cause gum disease, leading to sore, bleeding gums, and possibly tooth loss.
What other factors contribute to poor Oral health and tooth loss?
SMOKING! CHEWING TOBACCO! SUGAR! ALCOHOL! Tobacco use causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, impairing the healing of the gums, and possibly resulting in oral cancer. Sugar attracts bad bacteria that can cause gingivitis, gum disease, and receding gums. Alcohol and other acidic drinks and food such as citrus fruit and juices, wine, tomato products, carbonated beverages, pickled products, and cranberries will weaken tooth enamel.
If cared for properly, your teeth are designed to last a lifetime.
How can you maintain Oral health, and help keep your teeth?
- Get regular checkups: Once a year, preferably twice. Include cleaning and x-rays. As we age the nerves in our teeth get smaller, therefore causing our teeth to be less sensitive. Without regular checkups, your teeth may be decaying without your knowledge, leading to tooth loss. (Statistics show 1 in 5 seniors have lost all their teeth.) 2. Brush your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes, especially before bed. Use an electric toothbrush if possible.
3. Floss at least once a day, preferably before bed. Use a waterpik after flossing.
4. Use mouthwash to remove leftover food particles after brushing and flossing.
5. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if bristles are worn.
6. Avoid tobacco usage.
7. Drink plenty of water, especially with dry mouth. Swish the water around before swallowing.
8. Maintain a nutritional diet and supplement with Vitamin D, calcium, and other minerals. Magnesium may help decrease plaque build-up. 9. Chew your food well enough to use and produce more saliva.
Concerned with the cost of dental care? Here are some options to consider for help with the rising cost of dental care:
- Inquire about Medicare dental coverage
- Consider a Medicare Supplement package
- Look into services provided by dental schools and colleges
- Sign up for clinical trials
- Ask if your dentist has any Financial Assistance Programs
- Contact the United Way
- Veteran Resources
Our Wellness Coaches are ready to assist you with your dental health needs, and help you choose from our top list of recommended products available here at Freshlife:
- Fluoride-free toothpaste
- Prebiotic mouthwash and toothpaste
- Naturally antibacterial toothpaste
- Bamboo toothbrushes
- Tongue scrapers
- Mineral supplements such as Trace Minerals, Calcium, Vitamin D, and Magnesium
- Ice Chips or Spry Gum which contain xylitol to help prevent cavities and help with dry mouth
Wishing you better health,
Sandy Fidler, Wellness Coach