Aging gracefully – it’s certainly a hot topic in the medical community, on health blogs, in lifestyle forums, and practically everywhere else. If there’s one common link among adults and soon-to-be senior citizens, it’s the universal desire to stay gold well into the golden years.
From muscles to joints to the skin and a hundred other things, there are plenty of good reasons to keep those body parts working well. Your teeth are no exception. Understanding how your dental health changes as you get older is critical to staying healthy into adulthood and beyond.
Aging and Oral Health
Poor oral health is directly linked to heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other health problems. Here are a few examples of how your oral health changes as you age:
- Nerve endings: The aging process involves shrinking nerve endings, which lessens the pain and discomfort associated with cavities and other teeth issues. Simply put, older people are less likely to notice something that would alert somebody much younger.
- Bone loss: Osteoporosis is the gradual loss of bone density during aging. This impacts teeth and gums, particularly the jaw.
- Poor dental care habits: Most oral health changes are related to aging, but one aspect of getting older – general apathy toward dental care – is literally a self-inflicted wound. By one estimate, up to 40% of U.S. adults regularly go multiple days without brushing or flossing!
- Receding gums: Partly due to aging and partly due to poor dental care, receding gums are a major factor in how your oral health changes with age. Consider this: about 25% of U.S. senior citizens ages 65-74 are afflicted with severe receding gums.
You can’t stop aging. But you can stop some of the bad habits that affect how your dental health changes as you get older.
Proper Dental Care is Key
To stay ahead of the aging curve, stay on track with the time-tested trifecta of proper dental care:
- Keep brushing: Aim for at least twice per day. Bonus points for that mid-day brush right after lunch.
- Floss regularly: Given the prevalence of gum disease and bone loss that many senior citizens face, it’s important to floss at least once per day.
- Visit your dentist: Proper dental care starts at home – and is enhanced with professional assistance. Make regular dental visits a foundation of your oral healthcare. Schedule an appointment with your local dentist today!