As you age, your dental and vision health are just as important as was when you were a kid. So while the healthy routines are the same – brushing twice a day, flossing, visiting your eye doctor and dentist, and eating healthy foods – there are some specific concerns we can focus on to make sure your smile and vision stay strong.
Vision changes in adults
You may notice some changes in your vision as you age. For example, your eyes may take longer to focus and adjusting to light and dark may be more difficult. The health of your eyes can depend on nutrition, sun exposure, family history and other factors, but their functions can also worsen because of age. You can take a number of steps to keep your eyes healthy, and visiting an eye care provider will help determine your vision acuity.
Maintain good oral health routines
You already brush twice a day, for two to three minutes with fluoride toothpaste. Now as you get older, be aware that the areas by your old fillings and the parts of your teeth exposed by receding gums are more susceptible to decay. Your dentist can watch for any signs of tooth decay in these areas. MouthHealthy.org from the American Dental Association recommends, for adults over 60, using an electric toothbrush or a toothbrush with a wider handle, especially if you have limited movement or arthritis.
Flossing is as important as ever since most adults show signs of gum disease. Flossing can remove the plaque between your teeth and below your gum line to help prevent gum disease. Sometimes we forget about the health of our gums, but gum disease can lead to tooth loss in adults.
Foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids are good for vision health, according to research by the National Eye Institute and others. Foods like citrus fruit, nuts, leafy green vegetables, just to name a few, can lower your risk for some eye diseases and conditions.
Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D can help keep your teeth and bones healthy and reduce the risk of tooth loss. Apples, carrots, celery and other fruits and raw vegetables can help to remove plaque from your teeth, but if you’re experiencing tooth pain, it may deter you from eating healthy foods. Visit your dentist right away if you’re having pain and it’s affecting your ability to eat.
Oral and vision health is a part of your overall health, so eating foods rich in antioxidants and nutrients can improve your health in many ways.
Your provider can notice potential problems
It’s important to continue to visit your vision care provider every year or every two years. For older adults, during your comprehensive eye exam, they will check for eye diseases that can be associated with getting older like age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, cataract and others.
Your dental visits twice a year are just as important to maintain as you age. Dental x-rays can detect the early signs of oral health problems like root decay. Additionally, chronic diseases like diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease can show symptoms in your mouth, research suggests. Your dentist can be the first to notice problems.
Your medications can affect your oral health
Some of us may face health issues that require medication, and your medications can have negative effects on your oral health. One of the most common side effects for older adults is dry mouth. This condition deprives the mouth of saliva, which plays a critical role in preventing tooth decay. To help counter this, drink plenty of water and limit caffeine and alcohol. It’s important to keep dentists up-to-date on medications so they can monitor your oral health for side effects. Talk with your doctor and dentist for guidance.
Keep them strong
While some of these recommendations are universal and can apply to all ages, as you age, there can be specialized concerns for your eyes and mouth. Take care of your eyes, teeth and gums so they stay strong and healthy throughout your life.