How to Maintain Healthy Teeth As You Age

As you get older, it is important to continue to care properly for your teeth. This includes getting proper dental care and practicing good dental hygiene at home. It is also important to make adjustments to your dental care and dental hygiene routines as you age in order to make your efforts effective and appropriate for an older mouth. Overall, maintaining healthy teeth as you age requires continued diligent care and a willingness to change your routine if it suits your needs.


EditAdjusting Your Dental Care as You Age

  1. Get a different type of toothbrush. As you age it may become difficult or improper for you to brush your teeth as you used to. You should use a soft bristled brush as you get older. Also, if you have arthritis, it can be difficult to brush with a normal toothbrush. In this instance you can use a toothbrush with an extra long handle or invest in an electric toothbrush instead.[1]
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    • A soft toothbrush can protect your gums and the aging enamel on your teeth.
    • A toothbrush with a longer handle will allow you to keep your arm lower while you brush.
    • An electric toothbrush will allow you to use less pressure when brushing and still get a thorough cleaning.
  2. Don’t let your mouth dry out. As you age you are more likely to have dry mouth. This could be due changes in your mouth or due to medications that cause dry mouth. Having a dry mouth can impact your dental health because saliva protects teeth from decay and helps clean your teeth.[2]
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    • To offset dry mouth, you should drink more water and hold it in your mouth for a few seconds as you drink it.
    • Also, you can suck on sugar-free candies or lozenges or chew sugar-free gum to stimulate the production of saliva in your mouth.
  3. Tell your dentist about any medical problems you are experiencing. If you develop medical conditions as you age you should let your dentist know, as it could impact that way that they care for your teeth. Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer can have a real impact on your dental health and these impacts need to be addressed by your dentist.[3]
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  4. Let your dentist know about medications you are taking. As you age, you are likely to take more medications. Some medications can impact your teeth and dental health. Let your dentist know about all of your medications so that they can consider them when giving you dental care.[4]
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    • For example, medications that thin the blood, such as aspirin and warfarin, can cause excessive bleeding in the mouth when your dentist is caring for your teeth.[5]
  5. Consider going to a dentist that specializes in elderly care. There are some dentists that focus on caring for the dental health of the elderly. This allows them to provide expert care for the particular needs of the elderly.[6]
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    • You can usually find a dentist that specializes in dental care for the elderly, called geriatric dentistry, through a specialty dental association’s website or through a referral from your original dentist.

EditGetting Proper Dental Care

  1. Get a dental cleaning every six months. It is important to get regular dental cleanings as you age. Not only will it keep your teeth nice and healthy, it will allow your dentist to identify any problems that are emerging before they get too serious.[7]
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    • As you age, the nerves in your teeth become less sensitive. This means that you may not be able to feel it when problems begin to emerge. This is why it is so important to have regular exams as you age.
  2. Go to the dentist if you have a dental problem. If you do think that you have a problem with your teeth, you should get it looked at as soon as possible. Even if you are scared of the potential pain of a dental visit or you have a limited budget and you are concerned about the cost of dental procedures, it is still a good idea to get your issue checked out.
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    • Paying for small dental problems to be fixed will cost you less in the long run than paying for larger dental problems. However, there may be budget options that you can employ, such as paying in installments, using insurance, or going to a dental school for treatment.
    • Having dental pain can also impact your ability to eat enough food. If you have dental pain and it is impacting your life in this way, you should get it treated right away.[8]
  3. Discuss protective treatments for your teeth. Talk to your dentist about options of protective treatments that could give your teeth extra protection from wear and tear. Two common treatments are fluoride varnish and fissure sealants.[9]
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    • Fluoride varnish is a treatment in which a strong fluoride is applied to the teeth. This application makes the enamel on the teeth stronger and less likely to decay. It can be applied every six months.
    • A fissure sealant is a plastic or resin coating that is applied to the crevices of the teeth. This coating protects the teeth from bacteria and food that might get stuck in the crevices. This coating can last up to 10 years.

EditPracticing Good Dental Hygiene

  1. Brush your teeth twice a day. As you age it is important to keep up with good dental hygiene. The core part of good dental hygiene is brushing your teeth twice a day. This removes food particles and bacteria that causes tooth decay.[10]
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    • Your tooth sensitivity may increase as you age. This can be minimized by using a soft toothbrush and desensitizing toothpaste.[11]
  2. Floss your teeth every day. In addition to brushing your teeth, you need to clean between them. This can’t be done effectively with a toothbrush. Instead, it is done with floss or a flossing device.[12]
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    • If you don’t floss, plaque, food, and bacteria can build up between your teeth.
    • Be careful when you are flossing below the gum line that you don’t damage your gums, especially if you take medication that causes you to bleed more easily.
  3. Make sure you get enough fluoride. It is important that you get enough fluoride as you age, as it can help protect your teeth from the wear and tear that comes with use. For older people, it is especially important in protecting the delicate teeth surface below the gum line, as the gums usually recede as one ages.[13]
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    • You can get fluoride from fluoride toothpaste, a fluoride rinse, or from fluoridated water, which is common in many cities.
  4. Clean dentures. If you have full or partial dentures it is important for you to clean them as well. Take them out every night, be sure to clean them thoroughly, soak them, and rinse them before putting them back in your mouth.[14]
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    • When you get your dentures you should be instructed on how to clean them properly. This usually includes soaking them over night and brushing them with denture cleaner.
    • You should also clean the inside of your mouth after you take your dentures out. Be sure to brush your gums, tongue, and the roof of your mouth.
  5. Avoid smoking. Smoking can cause severe damage to your teeth over time. If you are a smoker you have a higher chance of getting gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss, in addition to other health problems.[15]
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  6. Be gentle on your teeth. In order to keep your teeth healthy for a long time, it is important to treat them well. In addition to good dental hygiene, you should avoid biting or chewing hard food, such as ice. Chewing on hard foods can chip or break your teeth, creating damage that needs to be fixed by a dentist.
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    • If you have chipped your teeth, go to the dentist right away. If you chip the enamel off of the teeth, they become more susceptible to cavities. Your dentist can help protect any areas that are chipped and repair them.
  7. Avoid beverages that can damage your teeth. Fizzy or acidic drinks, such as soda pop or juice, can erode the enamel off of your teeth.[16] Also, drinking alcohol can damage your teeth as well. If you are concerned about the health of your teeth, you should avoid these items whenever possible.
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    • If you really want to drink things that will damage your teeth, drink them through a straw. This will keep the beverage off of your front teeth, minimizing the damage.

EditSources and Citations

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