Brushing and flossing teeth every day is vital to making sure they stay healthy. Plaque – the enemy of healthy teeth – can build up quickly on teeth that are not brushed regularly. And as we grow older, we become increasing at risk for tooth decay and gum disease, particularly if we do not brush and floss. Whatever your age, it’s important to maintain healthy teeth by brushing at least two times a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride; floss at least once a day; and get regular cleanings and oral exams from your dentist. Additionally, rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash can help lower levels of the bacteria that cause plaque buildup and gum disease.
During a dental exam, seniors can expect their dentist to conduct a complete history of their oral health as well as a full oral exam. Often a cleaning will also be in order. You should be ready to tell your dentist the date of your last dental check-up, as well as any emergency visits. Also, keep track of any recent changes in your gums or teeth, and whether you have recently had difficulty chewing, swallowing, or tasting food. Be sure to let your dentist know if you have had any pain or bleeding in your mouth, or if you’ve noticed any sensitive or loose teeth.
Your dentist should check to see if you have any problems in your bite or jaw, as well as the inside of your cheeks and tongue for signs of infection or ulcers. Finally, they will thoroughly examine your teeth to look for any signs of decay, monitor the condition fillings or crowns are in, and look for cracks or broken teeth.
Be sure to follow any instructions or advice your dentist provides about maintaining your oral health. If you take care of your teeth over the years, they’ll take care of you.