How to Prevent Tooth Decay As You Get Older

Caring for your teeth has always been important, and this doesn’t change as you get older. We work with many patients who have a growing concern about their oral health: they don’t want to lose their teeth like their parents or grandparents.

We’re always happy to tell them that good oral health care can prevent tooth decay, leaving you with strong teeth even into your later years.

Here are several ways you can prevent tooth decay as you get older:


Brush and floss regularly

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This may seem simple, but the importance of brushing twice a day and flossing once a day cannot be ignored. Tooth decay occurs when bacteria (that naturally occur on the teeth) and food sugars combine to produce acids that break down the minerals in tooth enamel.

Brushing and flossing removes that bacteria, keeping your mouth clean and preventing decay. Flossing also helps fight against gum disease, which the Journal of Dental Research said occurs in nearly 64 percent of adults over the age of 65.

It’s important to brush and floss properly, ensuring all the bacteria is removed without hurting your gums. You can ensure you use the correct techniques for brushing and flossing by visiting MouthHealthy.org.


Be careful what you eat and drink

Because sugar and acid from food can cause tooth decay, it’s important to watch what you eat and drink. Sugary foods and drinks will only expedite tooth decay, so we encourage patients to consume these things in moderation. This doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy sugar again, but it should be limited.

One great way to do this is to only eat or drink sugary treats with meals. By enjoying these treats along with other food or drink, your body will naturally remove the sugar from your mouth. This also focuses the sugar consumption to specific times in the day, as opposed to snacking or sipping throughout the day, which keeps sugar constantly in your mouth.

It’s also important to remember that some sugary treats are worse than others. Sticky candies and hard candies, for instance, stay in your mouth for a long time.

When sugary snacks “stick” around in your mouth, they have more time to cause tooth decay. Sticky candy has also been known to rip out old fillings or other repair work. Sour candy is also dangerous, because its acidic nature can cause rapid tooth decay.

For all these reasons and more, you should avoid sticky and hard candies, especially if they’re sour.


Remember the importance of fluoride

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Fluoride prevents tooth decay and is a natural cavity fighter. It strengthens the enamel (the outside part of your teeth), enabling it to fight the acids that cause tooth decay. There are three easy ways to ensure you get enough fluoride:

First, you can brush with an ADA approved toothpaste with fluoride in it. Second, you can drink tap water with fluoride in it. Third, you can use a fluoride rinse or gel that gives an extra dose of protection.


Ensure your bite is right

Teeth are strong, but not indestructible. If your bite isn’t right, then certain teeth will be under constant pressure. This extra pressure and constant clashing can cause your teeth to chip or break. Getting an occlusal (bite) adjustment can fix your bite and ensure they fit together well.


Beware of dry mouth

Having a dry mouth can actually encourage tooth decay. Saliva plays a key role in removing the bacteria and sugar that cause tooth decay, and dry mouth allows those things to sit on your teeth. Although age doesn’t necessarily cause a dryer mouth, many medications that go along with age can cause dry mouth.

If you have dry mouth, you can help yourself by using moisturizing mouthwash or chew sugarfree gum, which stimulates the production of saliva. You can also talk with your dental care provider about further options.


Visit Your Dentist for Regular Cleanings

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Visiting the dentist regularly is an important part of preventing tooth decay. A regular checkup and cleaning can ensure there is no lingering bacteria causing tooth decay. Problems can be spotted earlier and fixed before they become painful or cause the loss of teeth. Your bite can be adjusted and your questions can be answered.

How often is regular?

Well that depends on your needs as a patient. If you have healthy teeth with little risk of cavities, then visiting the dentist once every 6 months should be enough. Some patients, however, have greater risks of tooth decay and should visit the dentist as often as every 3 or 4 months.

Your dentist will guide you on the frequency you need.

If you’re in Cumming, Georgia and want to take care of your teeth and prevent tooth decay, then contact us today for a dental checkup.

We can clean your teeth, ensure there are no areas of concern, and discuss solutions to any problems you have. We will work alongside you to address your concerns and ensure you have a healthy smile for years into the future.

Sources:
The Aging Mouth – and how to make it younger
Mouth Healthy – Adults over 60
Diet and Dental Health
Four Ways To Keep Up Good Dental Hygiene As You Get Older