Finding Better Dental Tools to Clean Mature Teeth
As with all aspects of health, we face different health issues depending on our age. Dental health is no different. Special care should be given to your teeth as you age, especially when it comes to the appearance of your teeth. Here are some common dental challenges for mature teeth and tips for avoiding them.
Common Dental Challenges for Mature Teeth
There are five common challenges for your teeth as you age:
1. Tooth decay
The risk of tooth decay increases as you age, often due to other health conditions. Arthritis is a common culprit, as it can interfere with your ability to brush and floss properly.
2. Gum disease
As we age, we may have increased difficulty chewing and swallowing, which can lead to inadequate nutrition intake. This can lead to gum and dental issues including gum disease.
3. Receding gums
This is caused by aging as your gums shrink away from your teeth, leading to sensitivity and heightened risk of tooth decay along the gumline.
4. Dry mouth
This is a common side effect of many medications taken as you age. Without enough saliva, you can increase your risk of cavities.
5. Oral cancer
Oral cancer risk increases as you age and can present itself with common symptoms including persistent sores, ulcers, or colour changes in the tissue in or around your mouth. We will look for these signs at your regular dental checkups.
Tooth staining and discolouration are natural occurrences when aging. Lifestyle choices such as smoking, as well as certain foods and drink, can contribute to tooth staining. There are whitening products you can choose including:
- Toothpaste that contains hydrogen peroxide can help you reduce staining while helping to whiten your teeth with continued use
- Toothpaste containing baking soda can help remove stains naturally
- Over the counter whitening strips which apply a peroxide-based gel to bleach away stains
- In-office whitening treatments for the best, safest, most noticeable results
Keep in mind a common challenge for older people and whitening products is restorations. If you have received cosmetic treatments such as bonding, veneers, crowns, etc. these replacements will not respond well to whitening treatments. They can also increase tooth sensitivity. It’s best to speak to us to find out what will work best for you.
Manual Toothbrush Users
We usually recommend using an electric toothbrush for our patients. However, should you choose to use a manual toothbrush, you should be getting a new toothbrush every three months. Look for a toothbrush that is soft or extra soft to avoid causing harm to your gums. Medium to hard bristles can cause receding gums and abrasion. Also, choose a brush that is multileveled and angled for better plaque removal.
Electric Toothbrush Users
As we mentioned, we prefer the electric toothbrush. According to studies by the Cochrane Oral Health Group, electric toothbrushes reduce plaque 21% more effectively than manual brushes. When purchasing your electric toothbrush choose a round, oscillating head. They are the most effective at reducing the risk for gingivitis and removing plaque. Even better, an electric toothbrush with a pressure alarm and a two-minute timer will provide you with the right length of brushing time in hand with the proper brushing technique.
Bad breath can be more common as you age for a number of reasons, but mouthwash is great for helping keep your breath fresh. Look for mouthwashes containing the following:
- Chlorine dioxide
- Cetylpyridinium chloride
- Essential oils like eucalyptol, menthol, thymol, and methyl salicylate
If you are less worried about bad breath and more concerned about fighting plaque and gingivitis, cetylpyridinium chloride and chlorhexidine are key. Fluoride is always an added bonus to fight decay and cavities.
With so many kinds of toothpaste available, it can be hard to determine which one is best. Here is a breakdown based on your specific needs:
- If you have gingivitis and bleeding gums, choose a product with stannous fluoride
- If you have sensitive teeth toothpaste and mouthwash with potassium nitrate work well.
- Avoid the latest crazes such as charcoal toothpaste, which can be too abrasive, and whiteners, which can increase sensitivity
Dental floss is a must for people of all ages. Choose a thicker, rigid floss and avoid floss sticks, if possible. They’re not the most environmentally friendly. Thinner flosses will not remove food and plaque as well as thicker flosses. You can also speak to us about water “flossers”.
Even if you’ve got all the right tools, they won’t be as effective if you do not use the right technique. Here are some simple brushing reminders:
- Hold your brush vertically and use up-and-down strokes when brushing the inside surfaces of front teeth
- Place your brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums
- Brush back and forth in short, gentle strokes for all other teeth surfaces
- Brush for two minutes, twice a day
- Don’t forget to brush your tongue to remove bacteria
Dry Mouth Products
A dry mouth becomes more common as you age due to age-related medical disorders and many common over-the-counter and prescription medications. A lack of saliva is a problem as it is your primary defense against tooth decay. Your saliva also:
- Maintains soft and hard tissue health in your mouth
- Washes away food and other debris
- Neutralizes acids produced by bacteria
- Fights disease
- Protects against microbial invasion and overgrowth
With this in mind, you should be using dry mouth products to help restore proper moisture. We can discuss the best product for your needs such as special oral rinses or artificial saliva.
Aging can lead to additional dental challenges, but with the right cleaning tools and techniques, you can reduce the risk of decay and gum disease.