Proper oral care can keep you smiling well into retirement. Brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristle brush are important. Flossing helps save your teeth by removing plaque between teeth and below the gum line that your toothbrush can’t reach.
Most people don’t realize how important it is to take care of their gums. Gingivitis is caused by the bacteria found in plaque that attacks the gums. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen gums and possible bleeding when you brush. If you have any of these symptoms, see a dentist at once. Gingivitis can lead to a more serious form of gum disease if problems persist.
Three out of four adults over age 35 are affected by some sort of gum (periodontal) disease. In gum disease, the infection may become severe. Your gums begin to recede, pulling back from the teeth. In the worst cases, bacteria form pockets between the teeth and gums, weakening the bone. This can lead to tooth loss if untreated, especially in patients with osteoporosis. If regular oral care is too difficult, your dentist can provide alternatives to aid in flossing and prescribe medication to keep the infection from getting worse.
If you have arthritis, you may find it difficult to brush and floss. Ask your dentist for ways to overcome this problem. Certain dental products are designed to make dental care less painful for arthritis sufferers. Try using a battery operated toothbrush with a large handle. These toothbrushes can help by doing some of the work for you.
Older adults sometimes experience diminished production of saliva and a condition called dry mouth, which leads to problems such as swallowing or speech difficulty. Certain kinds of medications and even cancer treatment can cause dry mouth. One of the more serious consequences of dry mouth is greater susceptibility to cavities and other oral problems because saliva acts as a natural rinsing agent in the mouth
Oral cancer most often occurs in people over 40 years of age. See a dentist immediately if you notice any red or white patches on your gums or tongue, sores that fail to heal within two weeks, or an unusual hard spot on the side of your tongue. Oral cancer is often difficult to detect in its early stages, when it can be cured easily. A dentist can perform a head and neck exam to screen for signs of cancer.
Regular dental check-ups are very important.