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Over 55 dental health

Why looking after your teeth is more important the older you get

Throughout our life, there’s one basic routine which we all need to maintain as part of a healthy lifestyle – a good oral hygiene routine - your teeth can last a lifetime with proper home care and regular dental check-ups. 

But the natural aging process does take its toll on your teeth and there are a number of issues in your senior years which can impact on your oral health.

After years of eating, drinking and enjoying life, it’s no surprise that one of the biggest problems we face is previous dental work deteriorating - fillings don't last for ever and may need repairing or replacing from time to time.

Other common problems are cavities and decay on the root surface of your teeth.  So, it’s really important to brush with high fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and visit your dentist regularly.

Sensitivity is another common issue as your gums recede over time, exposing areas of your teeth that are not protected by enamel. We’ve all tossed back a nice, cold glass of water only to grimace at that sharp, tingling sensation in our teeth.

If you experience this regularly, it’s best to start off with trying sensitive toothpaste, and if the problem persists, visit your nearest mydentist practice as the issue could be the result of a more serious condition such as a cavity or cracked tooth.

The dreaded dry mouth

Saliva plays an import role in keeping your mouth healthy, it protects teeth from decay, helps heal sores in your mouth, and prevents infection by controlling bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

As we get older many of us start to suffer from a dry mouth, and left untreated, it can lead to oral thrush, tooth decay and gum disease.

Dry mouth can be caused be many factors, often dehydration, but it can also be caused by an underlying problem or medical condition. Over 400 medications can cause a dry mouth, including antihistamines, anti-depressants and diuretics - so always check the leaflet which comes with your medicine. Other common causes of dry mouth include a blocked nose, diabetes, radiotherapy and Sjögren's syndrome.

There are preventative measures however; chewing sugar free gum is a great way to prevent dry mouth. You can also get artificial saliva products that resemble naturally-produced saliva and are available as sprays, swabs and solutions in a variety of flavours.

If you suffer from dry mouth, there are few items you should avoid including:

  • Spicy or salty foods
  • Drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, tea and some sodas
  • Tobacco and alcohol

Dementia can also play a big part in someone’s oral hygiene, therefore it’s important to establish a dental care programme at, or soon after diagnosis.

Establishing a dental care programme should help to reduce the risk of developing poor oral and dental health. The Alzheimer’s society offers excellent guidance factsheets explaining the dental problems that people with dementia may face at different stages, and methods for treatment and prevention.