May 10

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How Dental Hygiene Affects Your Health as You Age


Dental hygiene might seem like a routine that will never change. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss and rinse once a day, and get your teeth professionally cleaned every six months. However steady that rhythm might be, dental hygiene actually impacts your health differently as you age.

Dental Hygiene Changes as You Get Older

Dental hygiene can become more challenging as you age. The ADA points out that the “older adult” portion of the national population, those defined as 65 or older, is growing rapidly, so this is something the dental sector is dealing with on an increasing basis.

For starters, there is a popular misconception that losing adult teeth is inevitable. Not everyone winds up needing dentures or other kinds of replacement teeth. When properly cared for, adult teeth can last the lifetime of a person.

However, everyone’s mouth changes as they age. For most people, this means that the nerves inside their teeth reduce in size. That means teeth are not as sensitive to problems or cavities as they used to be. Seeing a dentist regularly who can find cavities and problems becomes more important. They can still diagnose things early that you might be less aware of as you get up there in years.

The older someone gets, the more likely they are to have comorbidities or medications that can complicate oral hygiene. Prescription medications can have side effects or interactions with oral hygiene products that leave a person’s mouth at higher levels of risk. Also, conditions such as hypertension or diabetes can impact the health inside the mouth so it is less able to take care of itself.

Some specific dental issues are more likely as someone ages. Dry mouth is one of them. Periodontitis is another. There are treatments available for both, but early diagnosis is important.

The risk of oral cancer can go up as someone ages. This is especially true for certain risk factors, including family history and tobacco use in any form.

Find the Right Dentist

Whether you need a dentist in Bethesda or close to where you live and work, there are certain things you should look for in a dentist who can serve you well. For starters, make sure they use state-of-the-art technology and techniques in everything they do. Second, be sure they know how to make their patients comfortable because you aren’t going to keep appointments with a dentist you dread going to.

The dentist you visit should be someone with tremendous skill, experience, and education in their particular field. You also want the dental services at any office to be a mix of restorative and preventative techniques. This combination gives you the best chance of effective long-term oral care.

Paying for Dental Care

Dental care can sometimes get expensive. Fortunately, there are several ways to make it more affordable:

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    • Dental Insurance: Your employer might offer dental insurance, and some health insurance plans include it, though not all. You can also get standalone dental insurance on your own.
    • Group Saving Plans: Closely related to dental insurance is group plans where many services have prenegotiated prices with select service providers. Using them gives you a discount on normal market rates.
    • Dentist Specials: Many dentist offices have their own internal payment plans and pricing you can take advantage of. This might range from coupons they mail out to new patient specials to volume discounts for repeat patients.
    • Care for Your Teeth: The better you care for your teeth, the less work they will need over time. Your own daily dental hygiene can pay dividends in terms of not having to pay for advanced treatments. Just sticking with your appointments can prevent a lot of issues.

    Smile for a Long While

    Even though dental hygiene might impact your health in different ways as you age, one thing won’t change. Taking care of your teeth and gums means you take care of your smile. Always be able to shine your joy and happiness to others when you experience them in life, and you’ll stay that radiant personality people love being around.