3 ways to keep mature smiles healthy

With age comes wisdom and more responsibility. Taking care of your smile is no exception! As you get older, your oral health risks and needs change. Keeping your mouth healthy and receiving routine care not only protects your teeth and gums, it also impacts your overall well-being. 

1. Decrease your risk for tooth decay.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, almost all patients that are 65 and older have had a cavity and nearly 20% have a cavity left untreated. In fact, tooth decay is the No. 1 chronic disease for this age group.

Here’s the good news — there’s plenty you can do to help prevent cavities. For starters, continue brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing daily. Getting the right amount of fluoride is also important. Drink fluoridated water — usually found right from the tap — and brush with fluoride toothpaste. Take preventive care a step further and ask your dentist about fluoride rinses and gels. Studies show that those who use fluoride regularly have fewer cavities.

2. Catch health issues early.

About one in four adults age 65 and older hasn’t seen a dentist in five years, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. It’s important to remember that regular dental visits are a priority, even if you have dentures. During a routine visit your dentist can potentially identify signs of more than 120 diseases including oral cancer, heart disease and diabetes — all by examining your mouth! Keep in mind that many dental plans cover diagnostic and preventive care at 100%.

3. Keep your mouth’s defense system strong.

As you get older, you’re more likely to experience dry mouth. That means less saliva, which is one of your body’s key weapons in defending against gum disease and tooth decay because it washes away acid and food particles. Dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medications or can stem from other conditions, such as diabetes.

According to the American Dental Association, about 30% of people over 65 and 40% of people over 80 suffer from dry mouth. Drinking water throughout the day is a great start, but you should also limit consumption of alcohol and drinks that have a lot of sugar or caffeine.