As we age, there is always the possibility that for some of us, our teeth won’t age quite as well as we do. For some, you might even consider it either acceptable or inevitable that at some point you will experience tooth loss. Why are we so complacent about embracing a future with dentures? What age is a “good” age for this to happen? If sixty or seventy is the new 40 or 50 – is there ANY age that’s good for bad teeth? Thankfully, the answer is no. There really is no reason (at least here in North America) why your senior teeth can’t still shine!
Dental care is as important, if not more so, in your golden years than ever before. Regular oral care is the “ounce of prevention” worth a “pound of cure.” Dental decay can point to health problems like heart ailments, chronic respiratory problems, diabetes and even dementia. Visiting your Dentist might actually help your health when issues around your gums, teeth and mouth hint at a larger problem. They signal it’s time to visit the Doctor. For caregivers helping to provide oral hygiene for an elderly parent or patient, you are the front line in terms of helping those in your care. Even bad breath can be a sign of a larger problem so brushing teeth regularly, encouraging the use of mouthwash and flossing too should all form an important part of the care routine you provide. Alerting the Dentist to any changes in the mouth, teeth or gums of those you care for might just help prevent other significant health issues.
With the introduction of fluoridated water it’s true that we are seeing fewer older patients with extensive decay issues. While that’s a good thing – Brinkley Dental still sees our fair share of seniors who resisted visiting a dental office until it was too late. Often, pulling a tooth or performing extensive procedures like root canals were the only care options left. Many are complacent and tell us they “expected” this kind of thing to happen sooner or later. The reality however is that teeth are pretty darn strong and if treated properly, they’re not going to go anywhere! Old age isn’t a reason to “write-off” your teeth and caring for them might actually help keep you healthier.
As for those who might have already had a tooth or two replaced, caring for your dentures is just as important as caring for your teeth. Improper care and cleaning can lead to bacteria build up and could cause infection or even disease. We’ve talked about caring for dentures in the past so check out our blog history if you need a refresher!
Finally, for some seniors, budget seems to be a factor. Many do enter the golden years living on a more restrictive budget than before and view the cost of visiting a dentist regularly as prohibitive. The unfortunate reality is, the cost of extensive dental work is significantly higher than scheduling at least an annual visit with your Dentist or Hygienist. In some communities, programs are in place to help seniors with the cost of dental care. If this is an issue for you, look to see if help is available where you live. Peel Region is one such area that does provide some dental services and monetary support for those on limited or fixed incomes. Speak to your Dentist as well about payment plans and other ways to help alleviate any potential concerns around cost. Occasionally, there may even be less costly alternative treatment plans the Dentist can discuss with you.
What’s the bottom line on teeth and aging? Just this. Age is “just” a number and your teeth have no idea how old you are! Practice proper brushing techniques and good oral hygiene throughout life regardless of how old you are. Teeth really can last a lifetime if looked after properly and if you’re caring for someone, brushing teeth might be more important than ever before, providing a window into your parent or patients overall health. Don’t ignore your teeth as you age, they don’t have to suffer and neither do you! As always, and at any age, ”don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and Brush that SMILE!”