Last week we talked about “mindful eating” and stressed the importance of eating slowly to facilitate good digestion. Unfortunately many of the maladies associated with aging make the process more difficult.
Medical and dental research reveals that general health and oral health are closely related. Dental health takes on a new meaning when the focus changes from braces and whitening techniques to how to keep the teeth that you have. The condition of the teeth is more important than the age of the teeth when it comes to chewing and processing food.
Watch for obvious changes:
- A dry mouth: Medications often interfere with saliva production resulting in an unpleasant dryness
- The sense of smell and taste may decrease
- Teeth become fragile and discolored
- Gum tissue recedes and root surfaces are at risk for cavities
Despite all of these changes people are keeping their teeth into very old age, if not their entire lifetime. Dental diseases can often be prevented with daily oral care, attention to diet, and regular checkups.
Aging presents challenges that require extra care.
Tips to help you manage good oral hygiene might include:
- Good lighting in the bathroom. Admire your handiwork. Your teeth should look clean and feel slippery and smooth.
- Check your mouth for ulcers, plaque or any brown, red or white spots. Normal healthy tissue should be pink or coral in color and should not bleed.
- Professionals suggest brushing or rinsing your mouth after meals or snacks.
- Use an electric toothbrush and/or a brush with a large handle if you have difficulty manipulating a standard tooth brush.
- Sit down and rest your elbows on the counter if it is hard to hold your arm parallel to your teeth.
- Use a flossing wand if swollen or stiff fingers make it hard to manipulate flossing ribbon.
Taking care of your teeth is a worthwhile investment. Good dental care is important at any age, but it isn’t going to just happen. Do your homework.