Proactively protect your oral health.
Our bodies change throughout our lives as we grow and age, so our needs change as well. Growing older urges us to begin paying extra attention to certain aspects of our health, and doing so early can prevent health issues later. Exercising and eating right, for example, can help prevent issues like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and the risks associated with those conditions. The same is true of your oral health. As you age, your risk of certain health conditions and dental problems do go up, but you can take steps to prevent these issues from becoming a problem down the road by taking action and building healthy habits now.
Here are 5 ways to prevent common dental problems from popping up later in life.
1. Follow a regular oral hygiene routine.
Maintaining a great oral hygiene routine is a vital part of keeping your teeth and gums healthy in both the short- and long-term. A good oral hygiene routine involves brushing your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste for two minutes twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and using mouthwash once or twice a day, depending on what the bottle’s directions say. Each of these steps fulfills a role the others can’t, working together to clean your mouth of plaque. Flossing, for example, is the only way to remove plaque from around your gum line, so it’s a vital part of preventing gum disease. You can also improve your routine by choosing a mouthwash that addresses specific oral health issues, such as a fluoride mouthwash that helps prevent cavities or an antibacterial mouthwash to fight gingivitis.
Following a routine like this helps you prevent oral health issues before they occur, protecting you from cavities, gum disease like periodontitis, and the tooth loss these issues can cause if they’re left untreated. This saves you the time and money involved with additional dental treatments, but it’s also better for your oral health in the long term. Even though modern dentistry has many very functional, natural-looking tooth restorations like tooth-colored fillings, porcelain crowns, and dental implants, it’s simply better to keep as much of your natural tooth structure as possible. When you keep your natural teeth healthy, you don’t have to worry about replacing aging fillings or dental crowns before they fail—or having your restoration fail and begin leaking, leading to extensive decay underneath. Additionally, while implants are the best alternative to natural teeth, they lack nerves and can’t communicate with your brain about how hard you need to bite down. Keeping your teeth as healthy as possible helps you avoid these pitfalls.
2. Visit your dentist regularly and listen to their advice.
The average person should visit Dr. Tyler every six months for regular professional dental cleanings that help remove plaque and hardened tartar from your teeth. You can’t remove tartar from your teeth at home, so these regular cleanings help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Regular appointments also allow Dr. Tyler to perform regular oral cancer screenings and spot issues like cavities and gum disease early on, before they require major treatment. All of this helps you keep as much of your teeth and gums healthy as possible. If you’re currently suffering from periodontitis or have suffered from it in the past, however, you may need to visit him more often for additional cleanings and treatments. These extra cleanings can help treat your gum disease, monitor the healing process, and prevent you from getting periodontitis again.
During your appointment, Dr. Tyler may make recommendations to you about your oral hygiene routine or what types of mouthwash you use, such as pointing out an area of your mouth that doesn’t get cleaned as well or suggesting you use an antibacterial mouthwash. These suggestions usually involve making small changes or paying a little more attention when you’re brushing your teeth, but following them can make a big difference in your oral health by making sure you’re getting the most out of your at-home oral care routine.
3. Get prompt treatment for existing oral health issues.
If you’re experiencing symptoms like a toothache or bleeding gums or if Dr. Tyler finds a problem during your regular checkup, it’s important to get treatment right away. Left untreated, cavities and gum disease will simply get worse and can cause lasting damage to your teeth and gums. Eventually, they can both lead to tooth loss. Getting treatment as soon as possible limits the amount of damage done to your teeth and gums and protects you from undergoing more involved treatments.
Thankfully, even when you have a serious case of decay or periodontitis, dentistry has plenty of treatments to restore your oral health. When you have periodontitis, for example, you will need deep cleanings underneath your gum line. There are several treatments that accomplish this, including root scaling and planing. This is a nonsurgical treatment that cleans the surface of your tooth roots and smooths them down to lessen the likelihood of future infections. There are also surgical treatments, such as pocket reduction surgery, that uses an incision in your gums to clean your tooth roots more directly. These treatments are often a vital part of halting the progression of periodontitis, preventing tooth loss, and restoring your oral health.
4. Quit harmful habits.
Another way you can protect your short- and long-term oral health is by quitting harmful habits. Any type of tobacco use, for example, increases your chances of developing oral cancer and decreases your body’s ability to fight oral bacteria, which increases your chances of getting cavities or gum disease. Similarly, using your teeth to open packages or crack nuts, chewing on hard objects, and clenching or grinding your teeth can all be harmful. These habits can cause your teeth to chip, crack, or break, which can be painful and may land you in an emergency dental appointment with Dr. Tyler. Even if you avoid immediate injuries to your teeth, these habits can still cause them to wear down over time. Making an effort to stop these harmful habits or wearing a night guard to protect your teeth if you clench them at night can go a long way toward protecting your teeth and gums.
5. Consider replacing any missing teeth with dental implants.
Dental implants restore the appearance and function of missing teeth, keep your remaining teeth from shifting into the gap in your smile, and are the only treatment that prevents bone loss in your jaw. They’re embedded directly into your jaw just like a natural tooth root, which allows them to provide the stimulation your jaw needs to stay healthy. Since they’re made of titanium, which actually encourages bone growth, they can also reduce some bone loss. Dental implants are also flexible enough to fit your unique treatment needs because crowns, bridges, or dentures can be secured on them.
If you’re missing all or most of your teeth, a full arch rehabilitation can protect your jaw from bone loss while restoring the function and appearance of your missing teeth. When dentures are supported by implants, they gain a secure, stable, and natural feel that allows you to smile, laugh, speak, and even eat all of your favorite foods without worrying they’ll fall out. It’s the next best thing to getting your natural teeth back, and they will spend the rest of your life protecting your jaw from bone loss.
Prevent dental problems from arising in the future.
Taking care of your oral health to ensure your teeth and gums remain healthy as you age is an investment. Thankfully, it’s a relatively easy one, as protecting your long-term oral health doesn’t look very different from protecting your short-term oral health. If you’re ready to get started or have any questions, feel free to call our office at any time to schedule a consultation.