No matter your age, brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups work to safeguard your teeth. The same applies to a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water, and exercising to help keep your body – and that includes your mouth – healthy.
Mind Your Mouth
Healthy teeth are free of cavities and disease, and healthy gums are pink and, most importantly, don’t bleed when brushed or flossed. But certain medications, teeth grinding, and careless brushing and flossing can all compromise the condition of our teeth and gums. Here’s a reminder of how to keep your oral health in peak condition:
>> Brush at least twice a day
» Floss daily
» Use fluoride toothpaste
» Limit sugary foods and drinks
» Have regular dental check-ups
» Don’t smoke
» Contact your dentist at the first sign of tooth pain or other concerns.
Did you know?
Poor oral health can contribute to conditions such as pneumonia and endocarditis.
The Link Between Oral Health And Disease
Most of the bacteria in your mouth – and other areas of your body – are harmless, but when you neglect your oral hygiene, levels of bacteria can increase to a point where they cause infections that lead to tooth decay and gum disease. With research pointing to oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis – a serious form of gum disease – as potential contributors to serious diseases, it pays to take care of your mouth.
Most people will suffer from gum disease at some point. A common sign is gums that are red and puffy, or bleed when you brush or floss. It’s usually caused by a build-up of plaque, a sticky coating that provides the perfect environment for the bacteria that can cause gum disease to live and multiply. There are two types of gum disease:
- GINGIVITIS: A common and mild form of gum disease that causes irritation, redness, and inflammation on the gum around the base of your teeth. Gingivitis can lead to periodontitis and tooth loss so it’s important to get it treated as soon as you notice the signs. The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene. Stepping up your oral care can reverse it in most cases.
- PERIODONTITIS: Ongoing gum inflammation can cause periodontitis, where pockets develop between your gums and teeth that fill with plaque, tartar, and bacteria. These pockets gradually become deeper, filling with more bacteria, which can lead to tooth loss. Even more worrying is research that suggests the bacteria responsible for periodontitis can enter your bloodstream through the gum tissue, possibly affecting your heart, lungs, and other parts of your body – it’s linked with respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease, and stroke.
Your Teeth – Through The Ages
Oral hygiene – and dental check-ups every six months – go a long way to preventing dental problems. That said, there are certain life stages and ages when there is an increased risk. Here, Sydney dentist Dr. Frank Farrelly outlines key dental age-related issues:
At this age, you’re more independent and your parents are probably no longer taking care of your dental appointments. Start by making dental check-ups a regular habit from the get-go to safeguard your oral health. Keep an eye on your wisdom teeth, which usually come through around the ages of 18 to 21. They can damage nearby teeth.
If you are experiencing frequent dental problems, it is important to identify the cause. Perhaps lifestyle changes, such as diet or hygiene practices need to change, or a bad habit you’re unaware of could be contributing. Early signs of gum disease may be starting to show at this age.
Stress is common at this age so checking teeth to look for tension-related issues such as teeth grinding is important. This is the decade when major dental work, such as root canal treatments or crowns, maybe more likely, but early detection and good oral hygiene help to minimize the risk. Regular dental check-ups become even more important as you age, especially to spot the early signs of gum disease.
Your 50s and beyond
Gum disease may become a bigger issue at this age. Dentists will also look for any subtle oral-related signs of sleep apnea, to help detect it before it leads to further health problems. Major health events experienced at this age can make dental treatment difficult, so stay on top of your oral hygiene to keep your mouth in good shape.