Lifestyle Habits for Healthy Teeth

Author: Dr. Heena Shah

HEALTHY LIFESTYLE IN ADULTS FOR MAINTAINING HEALTHY TEETH:

You have so many good reasons to keep your family’s teeth and gums healthy. Being able to chew for good nutrition is of utmost importance. A new research suggests that gum disease can lead to other health problems.

A few keynote points to keep in mind:

BRUSH TWICE A DAY AND FLOSS DAILY

Along with this basic advice, remember that Tooth brushes need to be changed every 3 to 4 times a year. Patients with braces need to use special toothbrush. Talk to your orthodontist regarding the same.


RINSE OR CHEW GUM AFTER MEALS

Rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial rinse can help prevent decay and gum problems. Chewing sugar free gum after a meal can also help by increasing saliva flow, which naturally washes away bacteria and neutralizes acid.


DON’T SMOKE OR USE SMOKELESS TOBACCO

Tobacco stains teeth and significantly increases the risk of gum disease and oral cancer. If you smoke or use chewing tobacco, consider quitting.


EAT SMART

A well balanced diet and whole foods-including grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products-will provide all nutrients you need.


AVOID SUGARY FOODS

When bacteria in mouth break down simple sugars, they produce acids that can erode tooth “enamel” opening door to decay. Sugary drinks like fruit drinks or soft drinks pose a special threat as people tend to sip them, raising acid levels over a period of time. Carbonated drinks and sticky candies are other examples.


MAKE AN APPOINTMENT

Most experts recommend dental checkups every six months, more often if u have problems like gum disease. During a routine checkup, your dentist removes plaque buildup that you can’t brush or floss away and look for signs of decay. A regular dental exam also spots:

  • Early signs of oral cancer.
  • Wear and tear from tooth grinding.
  • Signs of gum disease.
  • Interactions with medications- Always tell your dental professional about any medications you take.

Almost all tooth decay and most gum disease can be prevented with good oral hygiene. We’re talking about taking a few minutes each day to brush and floss. That’s not a lot in return for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

LIFESTYLE HABITS FOR HEALTHY TEETH IN OLD AGE

Looking out for a senior loved one’s health means not only keeping an eye on their nutritional intake and physical capabilities, but also on their gums and teeth.
As we age there are some things that we tend to let fall by the wayside. Dental health seems to be one of the personal hygiene steps that can be forgotten. Since dental health is connected to whole-body health, it’s important that senior loved ones have someone to remind — or help — them keep their oral health a priority.

DENTAL HEALTH CARE IS IMPORTANT IN OLD AGE

Dental problems in old age can be common, from dry mouth to periodontal disease, and since oral health directly impacts the health of the rest of the body, these issues need to be taken seriously. Taking care of elderly teeth and gums is just as important as digestive or heart health.
Here are nine reasons why senior dental care is so important:

HEART DISEASE

Research has shown that there is a connection between gum disease and heart disease. Maintaining good oral hygiene is a powerful weapon against heart attacks, strokes and other heart disease conditions. In fact, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have coronary artery disease or heart disease. One study found that the presence of common problems in the mouth, including gum disease (gingivitis), cavities and missing teeth, were as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels.


PNEUMONIA

Poor oral health has been linked to pneumonia in older adults. By breathing in bacterial droplets from the mouth to the lungs, seniors are more susceptible to the condition; and good oral hygiene is a good way to combat this bacteria. Good oral health care is particularly important in nursing homes and in care giving situations, where many residents are unable to care for their teeth, having to rely on staff and caregivers.


DIABETES

Severe gum disease, also called periodontitis, hinders the body’s ability to use insulin. High blood sugar, which is an effect of diabetes, can lead to gum infection. Good oral care in addition to regular dental checkups can help prevent this condition.


DARKENED TEETH

As we age, the dentin, or the bone-like tissue that underlies the tooth enamel, changes because of the beverages and foods we eat. Staining in addition to a thinning of the outer enamel layer that lets the yellow dentin show through, can create darkened teeth.


GUM DISEASE

Gum disease is caused by plaque and food left in our teeth, in addition to the use of tobacco products, unhealthy diets, poor fitting bridges and dentures, and diseases like anemia, cancer and diabetes. Gum disease can instigate tooth loss and can be very serious for overall health as it has been linked to many problems in the body.


DRY MOUTH

Dry mouth can be a side effect of taking medications as well as cancer treatments that use radiation to the head and neck area. Saliva keeps the mouth wet, which protects teeth from decay and prevents infection by controlling bacteria, viruses and fungi in the mouth, so having a dry mouth can pose a problem. Dry mouth is treatable.


ROOT DECAY

Caused by tooth root exposure to acids from food, root decay is very common in the elderly. As the tooth roots become exposed as gum tissue recedes from the tooth, the root doesn’t have enamel protection and makes them prone to decay.


DENTURE-INDUCED STOMATITIS

Caused by tooth root exposure to acids from food, root decay is very common in the elderly. As the tooth roots become exposed as gum tissue recedes from the tooth, the root doesn’t have enamel protection and makes them prone to decay.


IMPORTANCE OF REPLACING MISSING TEETH

Missing teeth can lead to a many problems like imbalanced occlusion, joint problem,difficulty in chewing, Gastric problems.


HOW AGE CAN AFFECT DENTAL HEALTH

Age doesn’t always negatively affect oral health on its own.

Certain medical conditions, such as arthritis in the hands and fingers, may make brushing or flossing teeth difficult to impossible to perform. Some people are also genetically predisposed to dental problems. Drugs can also affect oral health, as well as forgetting to brush or suffering from cognitive health disorders.

All of these reasons make dental care a priority in old age, which is why it’s important to schedule dental checkups every six months, sometimes more, with qualified dentists.


HOW TO IMPROVE DENTAL CARE IN OLD AGE

We all know brushing twice a day and flossing every day is important for oral health. But there’s more to maintaining dental care than we know. Here are expert tips that are good guidelines to follow:

  • Brush twice a day with a toothbrush with soft bristles and fluoride-containing toothpaste.
  • Use an electric toothbrush.
  • Clean between your teeth once a day with floss or another inter-dental cleaner.
  • Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash once or twice a day.
  • If you wear full or partial dentures, remember to clean them on a daily basis.
  • Take your dentures out of your mouth for at least four hours every day, and know that it’s best to remove them at night.
  • Drink tap water.Since most contains fluoride, it helps prevent tooth decay no matter how old you are.
  • Quit smoking. Besides putting you at greater risk for lung and other cancers, smoking increases problems with gum disease, tooth decay and tooth loss.
  • Visit the dentist on a regular schedule for a complete dental check-up, cleaning and oral exams.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes dairy and high-fiber foods.

Dr. Heena Shah graduated from Government Dental College and Hospital, Mumbai, in the year 1981. She has more than 37 years of clinical experience.

She is a well-known personality in the field of dentistry. She has completed a Fellowship Program in Implant and Esthetic dentistry from Noble Biocare. She has attended various workshops in Endodontics and Implantology including sinus lift and bone augmentation procedure. She has attended various national and international conferences including IDS at Cologne (Germany) and Noble Biocare world conference at Las Vegas (U.S.A.). She has presented various scientific lectures at various platforms. She is certified in laser dentistry. She has completed post graduate diploma in yoga in August 2012 recognized by Indian board of alternative medicine. She is a co-editor for a magazine published by Club 35+ group in Surat aiming to create awareness among postmenopausal women. She is an avid cyclist and a lifestyle consultant as well.

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