How to Prevent Tooth Loss as You Age

How to Prevent Tooth Loss as You Age

If you’re approaching senior status, you see and feel physical changes. Your body isn’t the same as it was in your 20s. Aging also affects your teeth and gums. Tissues in your gums, as elsewhere in your body, grow thinner and weaker, and the bones supporting your teeth lose strength.

Wear-and-tear on your tooth enamel from years of chewing and biting takes a toll, slowly removing the enamel and increasing your risk for cavities and cracked teeth.

Our team at Northwoods Dental Group in Columbus, Ohio, led by Dr. Nathan Klabunde, provides expert care that helps keep your teeth and gums healthy as you age. 

Dental challenges as you grow older

Two dental conditions increase your risk for tooth loss:

Dry mouth

Almost all older adults take at least one prescription drug. Hundreds of prescription drugs cause dry mouth. Lack of saliva leads to cavities and gum disease, the top causes of tooth loss. 

Gum disease

A majority of older adults have gum disease. Smoking, diabetes, dry mouth, genetics, and poor dental hygiene can lead to gum disease. Receding gums allow bacteria to accumulate, leading to a gum infection. At the same time, gum disease caused by tartar and bacteria leads to receding gums. 

Preventing dental problems

Following are five tips that help prevent dental problems as you grow older:

Keep up with dental hygiene

The most important thing you can do for your dental health is to keep brushing and flossing twice a day. It’s the first line of defense against decay and gum disease. 

Get routine dental check-ups

At the end of each dental visit, make your next appointment with us. That way, you can put it on your calendar right away. Regular dental check-ups are essential as you get older. Visiting us every six months is the best investment you can make in keeping your teeth healthy. 

Why six months? No matter how well you brush, tartar is likely to begin to build up. Only a dental professional can eliminate the tartar that causes gum disease. We may also recommend special fluoride rinses or treatments to help protect your teeth.

Regular appointments enable us to find and treat cavities, cracked teeth, and receding gums at an early stage. 

Without early treatment, cavities and cracks allow bacteria to get inside your teeth, leading to inflammation that causes gum disease and erodes the bones supporting your teeth. We also check your mouth for cancer at each visit. 

Follow a healthy diet

What you eat and drink impacts the health of your teeth. A well-balanced diet packed with lean meat, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and low-fat dairy products keeps your gums, teeth, jawbone, and mouth healthy.

Conversely, too many sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and acidic products cause dental decay. Lemon juice, sodas, fruit juices, sports drinks, and sour candies are exceptionally high in acid that erodes tooth enamel.

Deal with dry mouth

Staying hydrated helps lessen dry mouth. Keep a glass of water within reach during the day. 

Over-the-counter rinses can relieve dry mouth. We can also suggest specific products that aid dry mouth and help protect against tooth decay.

If you have a severe case of dry mouth, ask your doctor if your medication can be adjusted. If that’s not possible, they may be able to prescribe medication that boosts saliva production.

Manage diabetes

Keeping your blood sugar under control is crucial for your physical and dental health. High blood sugar dramatically increases your risk of tooth decay and advanced gum disease (periodontitis). 

It also harms nerves and blood vessels, leading to foot ulcers, diabetic eye disease (and vision loss), kidney disease, and heart disease.

Call Northwoods Dental Group or request an appointment online today for your next dental checkup.

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