Increasing age and menopause can cause changes in your mouth that can result in bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay. Here’s what you need to know.
Oral Health: More important than you think
Why this happens
As women age, three factors can affect their oral health.
1. Loss of estrogen can result in dry mouth, bone density loss (which can lead to tooth loss), and receding gums—exposing even more of the tooth to possible tooth decay.
2. Medications (prescription and over-the-counter) can also add to dry mouth. Dry mouth means saliva is not available to moisten and clean the mouth or neutralize the acids produced by plaque. This, too, adds to tooth decay and can cause bad breath.
3. Increasing age means you’ve been using those little white bones for a long time, so a certain amount of wear and tear may be starting to show. Smoking, and past bad eating and oral hygiene habits can also leave signs of neglect.
Poor dental health can affect other parts of your body
People with periodontal disease are more likely to develop heart disease and strokes.
Most adults with diabetes also have periodontal disease, probably because people with diabetes are more susceptible to contracting infections. Periodontal disease may also make it more difficult to control blood sugar, putting the patient at risk for more diabetic complications.
Better dental technology
Recent dental technology and practices have improved almost beyond recognition. Dentists can accomplish far more with much less pain and discomfort than ever before. More seniors are seeing their dentists and keeping their teeth longer. As a result, more dentists are adapting their practices to meet the needs of older patients.
Better home care technology
For a deeper clean with less time and trouble, look into buying an electric toothbrush and a hydro floss cleaning aid. They’re available in stores and online at affordable prices.
Nine ways to maintain and even improve your oral health
1. Brush your teeth at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste.
2. Floss at least once a day. (Note: Ask your dentist about a special floss to use for dental bridges.)
3. Eat a well-balanced diet.
4. Avoid sugary or starchy snacks.
5. Ask your dentist if he/she thinks you should use an anti-microbial mouth rinse.
6. Aim at drinking 6 to 8 glasses of non-sugary liquids daily.
7. If you have chronic dry mouth, ask your dentist about treatments for this condition.
8. Don’t smoke.
9. Visit your dentist as often as recommended for oral examination and professional cleaning.
This article was reviewed by Dr. John M. Kidwell, D.D.S. Learn more about Dr. Kidwell at: www.kidwellalbus.com
For more information:
• webmd.boots.com - hormones and oral health
• webmd.boots.com - perils of gum disease
• emaxhealth.com - effects of poor dental hygiene
• 1800dentist.com - dentistry advice for all seniors