elderly woman holding dentures

Aging and Oral Health: Know the Facts

It’s a fact that getting older results in changes to our dental health, so have you ever wondered what you can do to make sure that your teeth withstand the test of time? Is it inevitable that as we age, we will lose teeth and require dentures? Let’s talk about aging and the realities behind senior dental hygiene!

A leading reason for tooth loss amongst seniors is gum disease. What starts as mild gingivitis can advance to a severe gum disease called periodontitis, which can lead to the loss of teeth and irreversible gum damage if left untreated. According to the CDC, “70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease,” which is not a comforting statistic! However, it is a myth that senior adults need to lose their teeth, and with preventative care, there is no reason that gum disease leading to tooth loss cannot be kept in check.

Another age-related oral health occurrence is stained and weakened enamel. Our teeth aren’t immune to showing the signs of aging, and years of eating and drinking will eventually make themselves known on the surface of your teeth. Acids and sugars wear away enamel over time. This, too, can be slowed down significantly through measures such as a balanced diet with less acidic foods and standard oral hygiene.

A few more things to watch out for are decreased nerve sensitivity, dry mouth caused by medications, and gum recession. Decreased nerve sensitivity can lead to an absence of pain, but that does NOT mean that no problem exists–this can mask issues and lead to delays in treatment. Dry mouth can cause gum infections and increase the chances of tooth decay. Gum recession can expose the sensitive root of a tooth and provide a haven for bacteria to accumulate.

Unfortunately, in addition to all of the above, aging and its associated health problems can create physical limitations that make it more difficult to properly maintain oral health. Chronic health conditions can lower morale and lead to mental health issues like depression, which can make daily tasks more likely to fall by the wayside. Lower energy levels can mean prioritizing other health needs instead of oral care. In order to combat these factors, consider ideas like using a water flosser, setting tooth-brushing alarms on a phone or an alarm clock, and using a toothbrush with an extra-large handle.

This may all sound grim, but the good news is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Knowing how to find and treat problems is most of the battle when it comes to dental health. Plus, technology is always advancing, and new treatments will only get better with time. Following the below tips can help make sure your natural teeth will last for a lifetime!

  • Make sure you have adequate calcium intake to support your teeth.
  • To treat dry mouth and prevent enamel loss, stay hydrated and moderate your intake of beverages with alcohol or caffeine.
  • To minimize gum recession, gently brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste and speak with your dentist to see what mouthwash may be right for you.
  • Consider an electric toothbrush to be sure you are brushing more thoroughly and for a long enough time.

And, of course, two of the most crucial ways to maintain your overall dental health as you age are also the most obvious:

  • Visit your dentist on schedule, ideally every six months, for routine cleanings
  • Brush twice a day and floss daily

With care, knowledge, and a bit of luck, you can keep your entire mouth feeling healthy and looking fantastic no matter your age!

Smith Valley Smiles

2311 Highway 208
Smith, NV 89430
Phone: 775-465-2388

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Pandemic Living: Why Routines Are Important

Never in my lifetime did I think I would be experiencing a worldwide pandemic! The stories we once read in our history books, will now have a new chapter that WE are experiencing. Tensions are high and patience is low. But remember, your children, partner, and even pets, are all feeling and going through this change and new lifestyle. So even though it is really easy to focus solely on our own internal feelings, you aren’t alone. Which is even MORE of a reason to establish a daily routine, for everyone. Starting NOW!

SLEEP

Sleep management is as important, right now, as it was before this pandemic (maybe even more so). Try and stick to your normally occurring schedule. If you normally woke up at 6:00am and started getting ready for bed around 10:00pm – continue to do so. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule will keep your body in balance. At least as much as possible. Everyone’s system is different, and sleep cycles for that matter. But make a solid effort to get your full 8 hours, it is crucial. If this is where you struggle, make it simple! Set an alarm. Set one for when you need to wake up in the morning to get yourself going and set another to let you know it’s time to wind down. Then for those of us that need it, set another to turn off all electronics and really focusing on clearing your mind and falling asleep.

When the world straightens itself back out, your body will thank you. It can be rough to retrain yourself into a “morning person” again. It starts by giving yourself the time in the morning to shower, dress, and mentally prepare to work – or study, or clean out that one closet again.1

GET UP AND MOVE AROUND

Everyone’s favorite topic – exercise! Now when I say exercise, I am not saying to get yourself a home gym and work your body into a frenzy. This is more of a “get your body moving” type of thing. When it’s cool out, go for a nice walk with your kid (fur babies included). Or even just by yourself if that works for you. The fresh air is always a good thing, a little vitamin-D, sunshine, and some quiet time for yourself. You’ll get a nice little jaunt, some family bonding time, and a boost to your mental peacefulness.

If you are working from home on a computer, be sure to take your breaks. Whether it is a 10-minute break or your lunchtime, make an effort to mentally clock out as well. Put your phone down and step away from your workstation altogether. You need to be distraction-free and able to clear your mind, even for a short while. Find something that makes you happy. Something that washes a sense of calm over you while you are doing it. Something such as painting? Crocheting? Reading? Whatever it may be and make that your “happy place”. Don’t make it a last resort. Run to it whenever you find stress creeping in.

HYGIENE

Consider this one an unspoken “must”. At some point, we have all pushed our personal hygiene aside here and there. Aim to give yourself enough time to shower either before starting your day or before bed. Not only is it hygienically sound, but it makes you feel better! If you find yourself not really caring what you look like, that’s a good warning sign to step back into the habit of bathing daily. Again – this is not a good rut to be in. When you maintain your hygiene, not just showering, but grooming, brushing your hair, flossing and brushing your teeth, and changing into fresh clothes (even if they are pajamas!). There is a different feeling you get by doing these things compared to just basking in your own aroma. Not to mention, there can be some health-related issues by going too long without taking care of yourself.

HEALTH including Mental Health

Your physical health is one thing, but now I am talking ALL around health, and this includes your mental health.  Do not push this to the side, wistfully promising you will deal with it later. Keep tabs on how you are feeling and be honest with yourself. If you are fearful of medical offices right now, there are plenty of great resources online to reach out to. Shoot your primary care physician an email. Avoid excuses. If something is going on, mentally, a scab that won’t heal, an irregular spot on your skin, get help from a professional. AND – if you are taking daily medications, keep yourself on track. Keep a schedule of daily habits and be sure to set alarms to support you.3.png

EATING

When you are busy and, on the go, it’s easy to just swing through a drive-thru. Then eat as fast as humanly possible all while you are in the car zipping to your next adventure in life. Convenience seems to be our way of life. However, with the pandemic, this is the perfect time to get your eating schedule in check. How do you get structure? It starts with researching healthier at-home options. Then making your grocery list and meal prepping. We find ourselves moving at a slower pace, so plan your meals, and even your snacks. Now is your chance to track what you’ve been consuming daily. See your habits in all their glory and get clear on what you want to change. Give it a go! And, if the grocery store offers too much temptation, try online ordering! 😉

If your mind starts drifting back into a rut, snap it back to attention by reminding yourself, you are not alone. This is new for everyone. It can be scary, it can be depressing, and it is just another wave passing for fear of the unknown. We are all going through this together, different paces and a roller coaster of ever-changing emotions. Hang in there. There will be an end to all of this. We are all learning as we go. We WILL get to the light at the other side. Hopefully, happier, healthier and with a wealth of new knowledge.  Be optimistic by being mindful of your thoughts, stay positive by being mindful of what you say, be kind to yourself and others, be well by analyzing and creating your routines!

Smith Valley Smiles

2311 Highway 208
Smith, NV 89430
Phone: 775-465-2388