“Brush, floss, flush.” We all know the principles of good oral health. And, for the most part, dental care stays the same throughout life.
But recurring gum disease, dry mouth and resultant tooth decay, crowns, and having to replace missing teeth may mean you’re already paying much more attention to your teeth than you did in your youth.
What’s more, poor oral health can affect your overall health and even increase your risk for life-threatening disease. Yes, people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease. World Oral Health Day on 20th March provides the perfect opportunity to explore how you can care better for your teeth or dentures.
Basic oral hygiene
Dentists agree that some of the simplest ways to keep teeth strong and healthy from childhood to old age is to:
- Brush twice a day.
- Use fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss daily.
- Use a fluoride rinse after meals.
- Avoid cigarette smoking or using smokeless tobacco.
- Eat less starchy snacks (e.g. crackers, sweets, rusks, cookies)
- Have routine dentist visits (at least once a year).
Help for dry mouth
Many prescription and over-the-counter medication can contribute to dry mouth – a very common condition among older adults. Dry mouth is risky as it increases your risk for tooth decay (saliva helps to wash away food particles and kills bacteria).
Dry mouth? The Washington Dental Service Foundation provides the following tips:
- Drink extra water.
- Use a saliva substitute or oral moisturiser.
- Chew sugarless gum or mints, especially those with xylitol.
- Use a humidifier at night (the extra moisture can help you feel more comfortable).
- Avoid sweets and cough drops.
- Avoid drinks with sugar, caffeine and/or alcohol.
- Avoid mouthwash with alcohol.
- Avoid overly salty and sugary foods.
Caring for dentures
While the thought of having false teeth may not be appealing to you, they do provide a better quality of life if you no longer have enough of your own teeth. Dentures enhance your features and make it easier to eat hard-to-chew foods. Your dentures will last longer and fit better if you take proper care of them.
Try these tips from the team at Oral-B:
- Brush your dentures daily with a soft-bristle denture brush.
- Remove them over a towel so that they won’t break should you drop them.
- Don’t use toothpaste, as this can damage your dentures. Warm water works just fine.
- Be careful not to bend any attachments.
- Rinse your dentures with water after each meal.
- Never sleep with your dentures in.
Place your dentures in a glass filled with water or a special denture soaking liquid.
It’s important to note that soaking isn’t a substitute for brushing. Brushing helps remove plaque, while soaking prevents them from drying out. If you take care of your dentures, you should be able to use them for several years.
See your dentist every six months to check the condition and fit of your dentures, and ask him or her to look for signs of irritation or gum disease.