You may think that problems with tooth loss are things to address when you reach retirement, after all most advertising for denture products are targeted at older people. However, the process that leads to tooth loss and the need for crowns, dentures and bridges starts much earlier on, in fact from the moment a child gets their adult teeth.
Old age doesn’t mean you will have to suffer dental problems. While of course our longevity means we’re more likely to chip a tooth, need a filling, and generally experience some wear and tear, it is possible to keep your teeth for life. Here’s how.
Healthy Teeth For Life
It’s never too late to improve your oral care and put measures in place to limit damage to your teeth and gums. However, it’s much better to start looking after your teeth from an early age and encourage our children to do the same. Even if you have already experienced a few problems with your teeth you can still take the following steps to increase your chances of keeping your teeth healthy for life:
Step 1: Don’t Delay Treating Dental Problems
Dental problems generally do not improve by themselves and the longer you leave them the more damage is done, and the more radical the treatment you may need. For example, a cavity left for too long will inevitably progress to becoming an abscess that may require a root canal or even extraction.
The solution? If you have any concerns about dental issues get help straightaway! Don’t wait for your next check up at the dentist, book in for an assessment as early as possible and get treatment before things get worse.
Step 2: Stop Snacking Between Meals!
It’s important to have a healthy diet that provides your teeth and gums with the nutrients they need for optimal health, for more on this read this blog post here. However, one of the most significant changes you can make to improve the health of your teeth and gums is to stop snacking between meals.
Why? Regardless of what you snack on, whether it’s crisps and chocolate or nuts and fresh fruit, the sugars in food (and drinks other than water) trigger the bacteria in our mouths to create acid. This acid can erode the enamel on our teeth and creates plaque that can then lead to gum disease. Our salvia is our natural defence, neutralising the acid, but this takes time – up to 2 hours depending on the levels of bacteria in your mouth and what you’ve eaten. This means that every time you consume food (especially sugary snacks) your mouth is under attack.
Making this simple change can significantly improve the health of your teeth and gums, although I would also recommend that you make other diet changes to support the good work.
Step 3: Establish A Great Oral Care Routine
It goes without saying that we all need to brush our teeth to keep them for life! But how many of us brush correctly? Shocking statistics from National Smile Month say that,
- One in four adults don’t brush twice a day, including a third of men,
- One in ten admit they regularly forget to brush their teeth,
- One in three have never flossed their teeth,
- One in twenty would skip brushing their teeth if they only had 5 minutes to get ready.
So it’s clear that as a nation we’re not all that reliable at brushing our teeth. Your dentist will be more than happy to help you to improve your brushing technique, so ask them at your next appointment. Here are the basics:
- Brush continuously for 2 minutes,
- Brush at least twice a day including last thing at night before going to bed,
- Use a toothpaste containing fluoride,
- If you use a mouthwash, wait two minutes after brushing – otherwise it rinses away the fluoride,
- Floss and use interdentals daily to clean between the teeth,
- Use a GumSaver brush regularly – 2 to 4 times per week – to reduce the risk of gum disease,
- Change your toothbrush every 2 to 3 months or earlier if it shows signs of wear.
Step 4: Don’t Miss Your Dental Check Ups
Your 6 monthly check ups are designed to identify and prevent any problems with your teeth, gums and mouth. Your dentist may spot issues that you’re not even aware of, ensuring you get treatment before you do notice a problem. Along with checking your mouth, teeth and gums for signs of cavities, gum disease and other dental issues, they will also do a visual mouth cancer check. This is like taking your car for an MOT. Take advantage of these check ups and you’ll have the best chance of keeping your teeth into your old age.
Finally, if you’re a smoker one of the best things you can do to keep your teeth for life is to give up. Your dentist can help you with this too; just ask when you visit them next. You may also like to read this post – Are You A Smoker? Why You’re More At Risk Of Gum Disease
If you don’t have a dentist you can search for services in your area using the NHS Find Dentist Services – just type in your postcode for a list of NHS and private dentists close to you.