Celebrate with a smile! 13-06-2016

Across the nation the bunting is out, and tables are laid up for street parties. After months of build-up events and activities are taking place in many communities, schools and workplaces, all to celebrate one very special birthday. As Queen Elizabeth reaches the grand age of 90, we look at the steps we need to take in old age to ensure we can still smile with confidence when we reach her age.

The first myth we’d like to tackle is that old age leads to the loss of teeth. Many believe that losing teeth is ‘just another part’ of getting old, however this is not the case. With the right care, maintenance of a good oral hygiene routine and with support and advice from your dentist, it is possible to keep a full set of teeth for life. No matter what your age, you can prevent the onset of problems such as gum disease and tooth decay.

However, as you do get older, it’s a good idea to be mindful and keep an eye for some of the following problems:

  • Receding gums. You may find that over time your gums start to shrink back a little. As well as causing sensitivity in your teeth, this can lead to gum problems. However, there are specific brushing techniques you can use to minimise this problem and to keep any gum problems that do occur at bay. You can also purchase specialist mouthwashes that help reduce feelings of discomfort caused by sensitivity.
  • Physical difficulties. As we get older, some of us find that our dexterity in our hands and arms isn’t quite what it used to be. This can make brushing, and in particular reaching all the different areas, a bit tricky. Your dentist will be able to advise on technique and aids that can make this easier, and that will ensure you reach all the areas you need to.
  • Eyesight. As above, in the event that your eyesight declines in old age, it may be difficult to see exactly what you’re doing. This could lead to areas being missed. Your dentist can advise regarding magnifying mirrors and lighting that may be helpful.
  • Medication. Some of us may develop health conditions over time that mean we need to take regular medication. Whilst some medicines are fine, others can cause a reduction in the amount of saliva that is produced. Saliva is key to protecting our teeth against decay and so we may find ourselves at a greater risk of developing problems related to tooth decay. Consider asking your dental team for advice, or having a look at the artificial saliva products that are available widely at local pharmacies (most without prescription).
  • Dentures and bridges. If you have lost teeth in the past, you may have bridges or dentures. These require quite specific cleaning and maintenance and so it’s important that they are not forgotten and that they are checked regularly by your dental team.

As we get older we do need to pay attention to how our oral health needs are changing. However, provided you maintain a good oral health routine, and work in partnership with your dentist, it is certainly possible that you’ll be able to smile with confidence for many years to come.