Genetics and environmental factors surely have much to do with the length of our lifespan and our general level of health as we age. However, recent medical findings indicate that oral health has a direct bearing on our risk for developing certain serious diseases and conditions. Although most people take good care of their teeth from childhood through middle age, maintaining dental health may not be given as much priority later in life, even though it certainly should. If you are in your fifties or beyond, taking time to incorporate the following dental health tips into your daily routine might just help you remain healthy and active for decades to come!
Continue to Brush & Floss Daily
Dentists know that daily brushing and flossing helps clean the teeth, increase circulation to the gums and decrease the risk of many serious dental conditions. However, some seniors who wear dentures are less likely to perform this daily hygiene task, opting to just clean their dentures, instead. If you are guilty of this, you should know that even as a denture wearer, brushing your gums and tongue with a soft brush and a gentle toothpaste or baking soda offers many benefits, including:
- freshening the mouth and breath
- increasing healthy blood flow throughout the oral tissues
- decreasing the bacteria levels in the mouth
- decreasing the risk of developing sores
- removing particles of food that could make wearing dentures uncomfortable
Examine Your Mouth For Tissue Changes
The risk for oral cancer increases with age. In fact, statistics show that more than two thirds of oral cancer patients are age 55 or older. One of the first signs of oral cancer is often a change in the appearance or texture of the tissues inside the mouth, including the tongue, floor of the mouth, gums, lips or interior lining of the cheek. As with all cancers, early detection and diagnosis are the keys to a positive outcome and seniors who learn to perform a periodic oral exam at home are taking a proactive step prevent this type of cancer and to remain healthy as they age.
To perform a home exam on yourself, you will need a small, freestanding, lighted, magnifying mirror and a square of sterile gauze. Begin the exam by opening your mouth and using the lighted mirror to look for any discolorations, lumps, sores or textural changes in all parts of your mouth and any visible areas of your throat.
Using the gauze, grasp your tongue and extend it up and out to allow you to see underneath and along the bottom surface of the tongue. If you wear any type of denture or oral appliance, remember to remove them before performing the examination. Since every mouth will look different, performing this exam frequently will help familiarize you with what is normal for you and enable you to spot minor changes as they occur. Any change, no matter how small, should be checked by your dentist as soon as possible after discovery.
Continue to Utilize Professional Dental Care
Even if you wear full or partial dentures and have no known dental problems, seeing your dentist regularly is an investment in your overall health and wellness. Your dentist is trained to notice subtle changes in your oral health levels, as well as ensure that your dentures and dental appliances continue to fit properly as you age.
If your dentist discovers any oral health issues that could be an early sign of cancer or illness, they can help facilitate the process of obtaining further medical testing or treatment by referring you to the proper medical specialist for your needs.
If you are one of the many seniors who have become a bit careless with your dental care, do yourself a life-long favor today by making an appointment to see a trusted, reputable dentist in your area. Check out sites like http://www.adazzlingsmile.com for more information.