This Healthy Aging Month, Keep Your Smile Youthful

oral-health-aging-blogWhen you smile, you add years to your life.

At least according to research conducted in 2010 at Wayne University, which says people who smile genuinely and have more laughter lines generally have better long-term health.

Unfortunately, getting older can come with complications that interrupt a healthy oral routine.

Have These Complications Compromised Your Healthy Routine?

Three complications you have or will likely encounter as you get older, along with how they might affect your routine, include:

  1. You have to take new medications. The older you get, the more likely your doctor will prescribe you some sort of medication. But many prescription drugs can dry out the mouth. Because saliva helps to combat harmful germs, this can put you at risk of tooth decay.
  2. Your hands aren’t as mobile as they used to be. With older age comes an increased risk of broken down cartilage tissue, otherwise known as arthritis. In fact, almost half of adults 65 or older have arthritis. This can make important routine tasks, like flossing, difficult.
  3. You might need partial dentures. When it comes to partial dentures —removable replacement teeth attached to a metal framework and held in place by metal clasps — partial dentures have many advantages: They can keep teeth in place, they can assist with speaking and chewing, and they can improve your smile. But they can also be a breeding ground for plaque, as plaque can build up around the metal clasps.

It’s true — all three of these are a part of getting older. But you don’t have to let them get in your way of good oral hygiene. Here’s what you can do.

Six Solutions to Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene at an Older Age

  1. Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated can rinse away food particles that have stuck around, and ensure proper saliva production. If you’re on several types of medication, you’ll want to keep the latter in mind, as the medications might dry out your mouth. Pro-tip: When you drink water, try to drink tap water. Tap water contains fluoride, which strengthens enamel and can protect your teeth against plaque and other malignant bacteria.
  2. Eat healthy. Cut sugar and white flour from your diet. Replace these with fruits and vegetables like pears, apples, carrots and celery, which can stimulate the gums or at least prevent them from receding. Foods rich in protein like cheese and nuts can restore proper pH levels in your mouth.
  3. Brush twice a day. This is something everybody should do, regardless of age. But it might have a more noticeable impact on you, especially if you wear partial dentures. With partial dentures, the remaining teeth near the clasps are especially susceptible to plaque. Give them some extra attention when you brush.
  4. Floss daily. Again, this is something everybody should do. If wrapping floss around your fingers proves too difficult, consider a Y- or U-shaped floss holder — a pre-threaded device you can use for farther reach and easier maneuverability.
  5. Take proper care of dentures. Rinse food particles from dentures, then brush them with a denture brush. Because dentures are made with acrylic plastic or porcelain, they are susceptible to scratches. Denture brushes have softer bristles, so they can prevent scratches. Brushing dentures regularly can prevent them from becoming stained, thus giving you a more attractive smile.
  6. Visit your dentist. Schedule at least two checkups a year with your dentist. Communicate the kinds of medication you are taking, and any issues with your gums and teeth.

September is healthy aging month. And while you’re never too old to find a new career, sport, passion or hobby, getting older can come with complications that might demand more of you from your healthy oral routines. But that’s no reason to stop practicing good oral hygiene. No matter your age, give people a smile that shines!

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