Tips for Teeth and Gum Care After 60
July 19, 2018
As you age, you may begin to encounter oral health issues you didn’t face before. Gum tissue naturally recedes as you get older. Your lower front teeth can shift from increasing pressure and wear away at your top front teeth as you chew. Additionally, medications prescribed for various health problems can contribute to dry mouth, which can lead to the development of gum disease or periodontitis: an inflammation of the gums causing shrinkage and loosening of the teeth
Healthy teeth and gums are as important as ever once you’ve passed your 60th birthday, and you’re never too old to improve your oral hygiene habits. Brush up on your routine with these tips for teeth and gum care after 60.
Choose Food and Beverages That Support Healthy Teeth
Eating well is key to maintaining and improving your health at any age, but especially once you get older. A wholesome diet will give you the energy to stay active and help to combat chronic conditions like heart disease, osteoporosis, and diabetes. It’s also important to your oral health.
The same advice we give to kids and younger adults rings true for seniors. Starchy, sugary foods provide fuel for plaque-causing bacteria, so eat them with moderation and rinse your mouth with water afterwards. Avoid acidic beverages, like fizzy pop and citrus juice, or follow them with foods like milk or cheese to help “cancel out” the acid. Finally, be sure to drink plenty of water, since it helps to wash away any food left over on your teeth and often contains enamel-strengthening fluoride.
Chew Sugarless Gum
Dry mouth, a drop in the amount of saliva your body produces, is a common side effect of many medications. This condition makes it harder to naturally wash away bacteria and the neutralize acids that can accumulate on your teeth and gums. Chewing sugarless gum after a meal helps to kick-start saliva production to counteract the potentially damaging effects of dry mouth.
Make Brushing Easier
It’s hard to maintain good oral health habits when brushing becomes painful. Health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and cancer can also contribute to poor oral health, since any muscle or movement restriction can make daily brushing challenging.
If your mobility is restricted, invest in an electric toothbrush to make the process easier. Be sure to replace the brush head with a fresh one every three months — just as often as you’d replace a toothbrush.
It’s never easy to quit smoking, and it’s even harder when you’ve been doing it for decades. But don’t give up! Healthier teeth and gums is one of many reasons to break the habit. Smokers have twice the risk of gum disease, and the treatments for gum disease may not be as effective as they are for non-smokers.
Continue to See Your Dentist
While you can’t erase a lifetime of wear and tear, attending regular dental check-ups can prevent things from getting worse. Poor dental hygiene can lead to cavities, tooth loss, gum disease and oral cancer.
The risks of developing oral cancer increases with age and peaks after 60.
Your dentist is your partner for ensuring healthy teeth after 60. Dental visits are important, ideally every six months, to catch any problems before they worsen. See your dentist if you have any bleeding, mouth sores, swollen gums or loosening of teeth.
Even if you wear dentures, you should have them checked regularly for a proper fit.