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

Expectations VS Reality: 4 Dental Myths DEBUNKED!

Let’s have a little chat about myths revolving around dental health. Sometimes dental health isn’t treated with a high level of importance. Oftentimes we push it by the wayside. And then we completely forget to reschedule appointments. Hey, we’ve all been there…

Look, staying on top of your dental hygiene and health is necessary for both your mouth and the rest of your body. Believe it or not, your oral health impacts many different areas of your total well being. For example, did you know your oral health can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, blood cell disorders, and bacterial pneumonia? It can also cause complications in pregnant women. We’re not looking to alarm you, those are just the facts. So, of course, things like maintaining a healthy diet and showing up to regularly scheduled dental check-ups are ideal for keeping both your chompers and your body well.

We’ve found that as people gradually lose good brushing and flossing habits, they start to buy into these “quick-fix” myths. So, without further ado! Dental Myths Debunked:

Myth #1 If your mouth doesn’t hurt, you don’t need to go to the dentist.

If your car isn’t rattling do you skip the oil change? There is always the potential for underlying dental issues even when pain and sensitivity aren’t present. Calculus and tartar have no problem building and building with zero pain association. And before you know it – HELLO! gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease! Stick to your 6-month check-ups, which is the standard for routine dental care.

Pro Tip: if you DO have oral pain or a dental problem, call us. On the call, we’ll chat about the discomfort. Then we take into account your dental history and immediate needs. We are all about personalized care for your unique needs.

Myth #2 The harder you brush and floss, the cleaner your teeth and gums will be.

Brushing and flossing rough is NOT good, nor is it recommended… ever. Flossing roughly can create small lesions and cuts in your gums. This can cause discomfort as well as bleeding gums. Healthy gums should not bleed. The same with brushing. You can cause some serious damage including receding gums, by consistently brushing vigorously. Remember that receding gums can get you into some dangerous waters. In severe cases, it does cause tooth loss. This then leads to a whole new gamut of problems.

Pro Tip: Do floss daily, gently sliding the floss in a “C” shape up the sides of your teeth and down to your gums. Brushing your teeth twice a day is the recommended standard. Again, be intentional and gentle. Firm circular motions for 2-minutes gets the job done.

Myth #3 Chewing gum can replace brushing your teeth.

Chewing gum is a good trick for minty fresh breath. Not an acceptable replacement to brushing your teeth. End of story.

Pro Tip: chew sugar-free gum after meals to help loosen food particles until you’re able to brush.

Myth #4 Diet drinks are better for your teeth.

While the sugar content may be lower in diet drinks, they are still very acidic. Acid softens the enamel on teeth leading to demineralization and tooth sensitivity.

Consider that water has a pH level (acidity level) of 7. This is a neutral pH level and does not cause harm. Battery acid’s pH level is 0. This is the worst of the worst. Now consider that diet sodas can have a 2-3 pH level! That is a lot closer to 0 than it is to 7.

Pro Tip: It takes your body about 20 minutes to neutralize your mouth from the acid intake. Your safest bet is always water. Milk is also acceptable.

Consistent and proper dental health care is a must within your daily routine. Avoid cutting corners, and remember… you only have to care for the teeth you’d like to keep! So be diligent. Stick to a daily oral health routine. Strive to eat, healthy. And, be mindful to take immediate action if you’re having dental pain or sensitivity. Call us at 775-465-2388

Smith Valley Smiles

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