From birth through to old age, taking care of your teeth is important at every stage of your life. Good dental health will mean you feel happier and more confident in your every day life and will actually improve your overall well-being too.
As we age, gums can recede – we literally can become ‘long in the tooth’. This increases the risk of tooth decay, while gum disease can lead to actual tooth loss. Smoking and some food and drink can mean your teeth get darker in colour too. Over time the surfaces of your teeth may become eroded due to acids in food and drink and your teeth may look worn down. Older people can also find cleaning their teeth quite challenging. Arthritis can make using a toothbrush harder and failing eyesight can make cleaning your teeth properly quite tricky. Even some medicines can make dental care more difficult as they can cause a very dry mouth which means the natural protection afforded by saliva is reduced.
The good news is there is plenty of action you can take, whatever your age, to guard against these problems. My tips are:
- Make sure you are brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Use an electric toothbrush. If brushing your teeth is especially difficult, there are some electric toothbrushes that have been ergonomically designed to be easier to use or ask your dentist for help in adapting your brushing technique.
- Drink plenty of plain water to keep your mouth hydrated.
- Keep an eye on your sugar consumption – especially hidden sugars in things like cereal and avoid snacking between meals. If you are on medication that contains sugar, ask your GP if there is a suitable sugar free version.
- If you are unhappy with the appearance or colour of your teeth, talk to your dentist about the various treatment options that are available.