Still smiling at 90!July 8th, 2016
The good old British weather might not have done us any favours recently, but that didn’t stop the thousands who came to London to help the Queen celebrate her 90th birthday this month. Schools and communities across the country held street parties and special activities, and the Royal family made numerous appearances at events all over the capital. Reaching the grand age of 90 is definitely something to smile about, but many of us worry that our smile might not quite be up to scratch in old age. How can we ensure we give ourselves the best chance of being able to flash that smile with pride in our later years?
The bottom line is that, with the right home care and support from your dentist, no one needs to lose any of their teeth. Whatever your age you can take steps to prevent problems, like tooth decay, occurring. However, there are some problems that older people may be more susceptible to, and that you should look out for.
As you get older you may notice that your teeth become slightly more sensitive. This is because your gums may have receded. Keep an eye out for any changes in the sensitivity of your teeth, as your dentist can advise you about your brushing technique in order to manage any resulting gum problems. There are also a range of mouthwashes available that can stop your teeth from feeling quite so sensitive.
You may find that you experience physical difficulties with brushing your teeth. It may, for example, be that your dexterity in your hands and arms isn’t quite what it used to be meaning that it can be difficult to reach some parts of your mouth. Some older people also experience a decline in their eyesight making it harder to see exactly what they’re doing. Both these problems may lead to areas of the teeth being missed which could in turn cause tooth decay or gum disease. Your dentist will be able to advise on the tools and aids which will be most helpful in making sure you reach all the areas you need to. A good magnifying glass or specialist lighting might be beneficial.
In old age, it may be the case that there is a need to start taking regular medication for different ailments. Some regular medications can reduce the production of saliva, which can give you a dry mouth. As saliva is a key factor in protecting your mouth against tooth decay, it is important to consider the alternatives. Again, your dentist may be able to advise, or you could speak to your local pharmacy about products to try, such as artificial saliva, which is fairly widely available without prescription.
Lastly, if you have unfortunately lost teeth in the past, you may have dentures or bridges. These require specific regular cleaning and so again it is important to ensure you have the right advice from your dentist in order to protect your remaining teeth, and maintain your oral health.
Getting old doesn’t have to mean gappy smiles and dentures. However special thought and consideration does need to be given to ensure oral health is maintained and that possible problems are recognised and managed early on. With a bit of support from your dentist, you too could be hitting 90 with lots to smile about.