Oral Care Tips for Healthy Aging

Oral Care Tips for Healthy Aging

Growing older often means facing new and unexpected health challenges. Knee pain, weight gain, vision and hearing problems – these are all normal side effects of aging. But there’s a misconception that tooth loss is in inevitable, and that’s just not true.

Depending on lifestyle and genetics, some people keep their natural teeth their whole lives. Others manage with only a few implants, crowns or a bridge. But if you take care of your teeth and gums throughout your life, you might be able to avoid complicated health issues down the road.

Why Oral Health Matters at Every Age

When people think of a healthy smile, they often think of straight or white teeth. But good oral health involves much more than a year in braces or the occasional teeth whitening.

Your mouth basically acts as a window to your overall health. Links have been found between cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. These diseases can manifest as gum inflammation, tooth loss or sores. Women especially should pay close attention to their gum health during pregnancy – as periodontitis has been linked with premature birth and low birth weight.

Teeth become less sensitive and more susceptible to tooth decay as you age. Following an oral care routine while improving other habits can not only improve your quality of life, but help you keep your teeth and gums healthy too. Healthy natural teeth will keep your healthcare costs down in the long run, because you’ll need fewer fillings, sealants, or more costly procedures like root canals and crowns.

5 Oral Care Tips for Healthy Aging

Follow the Daily 4

Brush. Floss. Rinse. Chew. It’s not a new concept, but it bears repeating. Brushing twice, flossing, using mouthwash and chewing sugar-free gum each day is a routine that keeps your mouth healthy. If you have trouble cleaning the spaces between your teeth near your gum line, we recommend Soft Picks from GUM®. If your gums or teeth are sensitive, talk to your dentist about toothpaste options and soft-bristle toothbrushes.

Don’t Smoke

Another one we’ve all heard time and time again. Smoking cigarettes not only stains your teeth and makes it harder to breathe, it can also lead to heart disease, lung cancer, pregnancy complications, erectile dysfunction, anxiety, poor vision and oral cancer. If you’re considering smoking alternatives like vaporizers, cloves or smokeless tobacco – don’t. None of these alternatives have been proven to be safe alternatives, and some could be even more harmful than cigarettes.

Rethink Your Drink

According to a major study, “the odds of dying from heart disease rose in tandem with the percentage of sugar in the diet—and that was true regardless of a person’s age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index.” And drinking sugar-sweetened beverages doesn’t just make you gain weight, it can also lead to diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and heart, tooth and gum disease. Sugary drinks eat away at the enamel of teeth, causing teeth to become weaker and thinner over time. This can lead to tooth decay, cavities and missing teeth.

You can add some flavor to your water with lemon, lime or cucumber slices. Or switch to sparkling water if you can’t live without a little carbonation in your life. 1% or skim milk is also a great choice because it includes calcium, which keeps your bones and teeth strong.

Replace Missing Teeth

If you are missing teeth, it is very important that talk with your dentist about replacing them. Your jaw is designed to operate with 28 teeth and as soon as one is out of the equation, the surrounding teeth start to drift into the empty space. This not only makes your good teeth more prone to decay and gum disease, but it can also change your appearance. The longer you wait after a tooth is extracted, the more bone volume you lose. And the more bone volume you lose, the more expensive and difficult it becomes to get teeth replaced.

If you’re interested in replacing one or more missing teeth, you have options! Talk with your dentist about dental implants, fixed partial dentures (fixed bridge) or dentures to replace your missing teeth.

Schedule an Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer is commonly associated with alcohol consumption and tobacco products. However, recent studies have found other causes for oral cancer as well such as HPV. An oral cancer screening uses technology to check for abnormal cells or lesion in the oral cavity. Any abnormality detected will indicate the need for more advanced screenings and tests.

Early detection saves lives. The sooner your dentist catches an abnormal lesion or cell, the better and more predictable the treatment will be – because it will be less invasive. So ask your dentist at your next checkup to screen your mouth for oral cancer symptoms.

Group of children having packed lunches

Teeth-Friendly School Lunchbox Ideas

With so much to do before kids head back to school, one of the most common details parents forget is packing a healthy lunch. A nutritious meal at lunchtime plays an important role in your child’s energy and focus at school, and could make a big difference on their report card.

Packing a teeth-friendly school lunchbox doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming as long as you plan ahead, get used to a little nightly chopping action, and try to make it fun. We’ve assembled the 5 friendliest food groups for your kids’ teeth and lots of tips for packing fun and teeth-friendly ideas into their school lunchbox.
 

Veggies

Fresh vegetables in colorful bowls isolated on white. Healthy party snacks. Asparagus, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce leaves and cherry tomatoes.

Crunchy vegetables—like carrots, cucumbers, celery, green peppers, lettuce and broccoli—are probably the best snack for your teeth, period. The high water content of vegetables not only rehydrates our bodies, but also dilutes natural sugars and washes away food particles while we eat.

The easiest way to liven up raw veggies is to include a dip like hummus, cream cheese or fresh salsa. But if you want to get a little fancier, try a dill cucumber dip or one of these delicious summer slaw salad recipes.

If your children aren’t very fond of vegetables in the first place, getting them to eat healthier can be a challenge. Just remember to set a good example for them with your own eating habits, introduce new foods slowly, invite your kids to cook with you, and allow them to have “sometimes” foods like sugary cereals or the occasional Happy Meal as a reward.
 

Cheese

Cheeses, White Background, Clipping path

Cheese is high in calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that help keep tooth enamel strong. Cheese increases saliva in your mouth, which acts as a natural defense against cavities and gum disease.

Cutting cheese into bite-sized cubes or squares is recommended to help your kids digest better. If you’d like to make a tasty cheese sandwich for your kids, try this cucumber, tomato and cheddar sandwich recipe we found.

Just remember if you’re packing a sandwich to use “whole grain” or “whole wheat” bread instead of white, because these contain more natural vitamins, minerals and fiber.
 

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts in the glass jar , collection, clipping path

Nuts and seeds are arguably the healthiest protein source. They’re an excellent source of healthy fats, vitamin D, calcium, fiber and folic acid. Folic acid plays a major role in preserving gum tissues and preventing periodontal disease.

Despite being rich in Vitamin E, the shape and texture of almonds put damaging stress on teeth when kids bite down. So if your kids love almonds, try to find almond slivers next time you’re at the grocery.
 

Fruits

5 varieties of apples: Granny smith, Golden delicious, Gala, Macintosh and Red delicious. Larger files include clipping path.

Fibrous fruits—or fruits high in fiber—act almost like a natural toothbrush while you bite and chew. Apples, bananas and strawberries are all a healthy substitution for dessert in addition to being relatively cheap, easy to prepare, and very fulfilling.

If your kids aren’t too keen on fruits yet, make fruits more enjoyable with a healthy yogurt fruit dip or try cutting apples into fun shapes.

However, be careful your children aren’t eating too many fruits – especially dried fruit or fruit juice, which contain lots of artificial sugars. And try to stay away from most “fruit-flavored” beverages and snacks.
 

Water

Bottles of water various sizes 1.5L, 1L, 500ml, 300ml. With clipping paths.

Growing up, we all probably drank way more juice than we should have because our parents thought it was a healthy alternative to soda. But the science is out – fruit juice is just as bad for you as soda.

Encourage your children to drink the recommended amount of water daily. Depending on their age, they should be having 5-10 glasses of water each day.

Water not only energizes rehydrates your organs and muscles, it also helps create more saliva in your mouth. More saliva means less tooth decay and stronger tooth enamel.
 

Putting it all together

We know every parent would love to feed their children healthy foods for every meal, but we also know that budgeting is a very real concern. So even if you can only afford apple slices, cherry tomatoes, a handful of nuts, cheese sandwich and tap water, you’re really helping your kids build a foundation for healthier futures.

school-provided lunch of mystery meat, instant mashed potatoes, applesauce and chocolate milk is unfortunately just not a healthy alternative to homemade lunch. And though school lunches are often provided at a discount, packing your own is possible for only $2-$3/day.

Good luck! And if you ever have more questions about teeth-healthy foods or lunchbox ideas, let us know when you’re back for your child’s 6-month checkup. Happy eating!

Healthy lunch boxes with sandwich and fresh vegetables, bottle of water, nuts and fruits on rustic wooden background. top view

Natural Beauty with stunning eyes and a perfect candid expression. Nikon D3X. Slightly cross-processed to underline that warm natural smile.

Thinking about Adult Braces? We’ve got Options.

Has your dentist recommended braces for healthier teeth or a better bite? Is there something you’ve always wanted to improve about the appearance of your smile? Then you should know that braces and orthodontic care aren’t just for kids. At BracesBracesBraces and Abbeville Dentistry, more adults than ever before are choosing them. In fact, 20% of all orthodontic patients today are adults. Healthy teeth can be moved at almost any age.

 

Why an Adult may need Orthodontic Care

There are many reasons orthodontic care may be recommended for adults. Crowded teeth, missing teeth or jaws that are out of alignment – a condition called malocclusion or “bad bite” – can cause excessive wear on teeth. They may cause jaw pain or difficulty chewing. And they can make teeth harder to keep clean, which may lead to cavities or worse.

Cosmetic considerations are important as well. An attractive smile is a real confidence booster. And since people are keeping their natural teeth longer than ever, it can make a difference at any age.

 

Options for Adults

When you think of braces, you may think of big metal appliances on the teeth. But there are other options available that may be right for you:

  • Invisalign® – These aligners are clear trays that fit snugly over the teeth. Many adults prefer them because they are virtually invisible when worn. Each aligner is designed to shift your teeth slightly. During treatment, you go through several sets. With each one, your teeth move according to the treatment plan mapped out by your orthodontist until they are in the proper position. These aligners are removable for eating and brushing, but should be worn 22 hours a day.
  • Braces – Wearing braces no longer means having a mouth full of metal brackets. Braces are smaller and lighter. Clear brackets and ceramic brackets that match your teeth can make them a much more attractive option for adults.

Advances in the design of these options can also make the course of treatment faster than before. At BracesBracesBraces, you and your orthodontist can evaluate your particular orthodontic needs, cost considerations and personal preferences to help you make the right choice.

 

Amber’s Experience with Adult Braces

 

 

Amber had issues with her teeth crowding each other. For cosmetic purposes, she was eager to have them treated. Braces were the best option for her. Her orthodontist used clear brackets, which were much less noticeable than metal ones.

 

What was your experience like as an adult with braces?

It was great! I had clear brackets so they were not super noticeable. I had so many other adults comment on how they were considering getting orthodontics after seeing me do it.

How long did your total treatment take?

Only about eight months. I just had a few teeth I wanted to shift.

Did you experience any unusual reactions from friends and family while undergoing treatment?

Just positive comments. I was surprised how many people commented that they wanted to explore braces as well.

How did you modify your diet while wearing braces?

I stayed away from really sticky and crunchy food that could have broken my brackets. But if I really wanted something that fell into that category, I was very careful and did not bite into anything directly. I only had one broken bracket throughout my entire treatment.

Are you pleased with your results?

Absolutely! If you are an adult and you are interested in braces, go for it. It is well worth the time and financial investment to be happy and confident with your smile. You will not regret it!

 

Ben’s Experience with Invisalign

 

 

Ben was experiencing jaw pain because of his bite. His dentist recommended braces to treat the problem. At his orthodontic checkup, he learned he’d be a good candidate for Invisalign, so that’s the option he chose.

 

What was it like being an adult wearing Invisalign?

At first, it was definitely an adjustment. It was tough not to keep poking at my aligners with my tongue and to remember to do the things I needed to do to take care of them. After about a month, though, it all just became second nature. It was great. People didn’t even realize I was wearing them until I pointed it out.

How long did your total treatment last?

From first impressions to final removal, about 14 months.

How often did you have to go for treatment?

I went every six weeks or so, to get my set of trays adjusted or replaced. I came in maybe a half-dozen times during the course of treatment. I was always in and out very quickly, in about 20 to 30 minutes.

How many hours a day did you wear your aligners?

I was really good until the last few trays. Probably 20 hours a day or so.

Was it difficult to keep up with cleaning your aligners?

Well, to help me remember to brush after each meal, I hid toothbrushes and toothpaste everywhere – in the kitchen, all bathrooms, office, car, briefcase – because otherwise I wouldn’t remember. I still find them in odd places as I clean the house.

Are you pleased with the results?

I’m thrilled. My jaw doesn’t hurt when I eat anymore, and my smile looks great. I went and got whitening afterwards, just to top off the whole experience! People notice it. I didn’t think my teeth were that bad before. But when people come up to you and say, “Wow, your teeth look great,” you just know you made the right choice.

 

If you’re an adult interested in exploring the possibilities of orthodontic care, contact BracesBracesBraces or Abbeville Dentistry today.

Blond woman in dentist chair smiles as she is handed clear aligners

Invisalign: Clear Braces for Adults

Many people think of teens when it comes to braces. But now thanks to Invisalign® clear aligners, the number of adults receiving orthodontic treatment is on the rise. Invisalign clear aligners are a comfortable, removable & almost invisible alternative to braces that are perfect for adults who want to straighten their teeth. Unlike braces, Invisalign is made of a strong plastic material and fabricated to fit each patient’s unique bite. No metal wires or brackets. And you can take Invisalign out whenever you want – for eating, brushing, meetings, dates or photographs.

How Invisalign Works

Invisalign is great at correcting crooked teeth, gaps, overbites or underbites. At your initial consultation, your dentist will take a physical impression or digital scan of your teeth that is used to create a 3-D model. We send that information to Invisalign’s skilled team of experts who propose a plan based on your dentist’s prescription. Once your dentist has approved the treatment plan, Invisalign fabricates your custom aligner trays.

Next you’ll receive a series of custom trays that you’ll change every 1-2 weeks at home. It’s recommended that patients wear their Invisalign clear aligners 20-22 hours each day to get the best results. You can remove Invisalign whenever you need to eat, brush, floss or clean the trays, but you’ll want to leave them in as much as possible to achieve the best and quickest results. Our team will schedule checkups with you every 6-8 weeks to ensure the treatment process is going well, and that you’re on your way to a more confident smile.

Invisalign vs. Braces

Invisalign treatment works faster than traditional braces. Traditional treatment plans for braces last about 2 years on average, but Invisalign treatment normally takes only 6-18 months.

Invisalign allows you to eat what you want. One of the most common complaints about braces is that your diet must change. People with traditional braces can say goodbye to popcorn, chips, ice, gum, nuts, apples and candy. But with Invisalign, you can eat what you want whenever you want.

You don’t have to change your brushing and flossing routine. Another of the most common complaints about braces is that brushing and flossing take extra time and technique. With Invisalign, you can brush and floss the same as before. Just be sure to rinse your trays and soak them for a few minutes each day.

Invisalign doesn’t irritate your gums or cheeks. Unlike braces, Invisalign clear aligners fit comfortably to your teeth and won’t cause swollen gums or mouth sores.

Invisalign protects teeth from grinding. Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a very common side effect from stress and happens to many adults while they sleep. Wearing Invisalign is a perfectly good alternative to wearing a nite guard while you sleep!

Frequently Asked Questions About Invisalign

Will Invisalign treatment be painful? Although some people experience temporary discomfort for a few days at the beginning of each new stage of treatment, patients who’ve had braces say Invisalign isn’t close. No mouth sores, no swollen gums and hopefully no headaches. The feeling patients get within those first few days is often described as pressure. And even though it might be a bit uncomfortable, it’s a sign that Invisalign is working.

Will Invisalign affect my speech? Patients with traditional braces or retainers often report a lisp or extra saliva within the first few weeks following an adjustment. After the initial adjustment period, patients with Invisalign shouldn’t notice any big difference. And remember – if you’re ever self-conscious about your speech in a meeting, phone call or on a date, you can still take Invisalign out for 2-4 hours each day!

How much does Invisalign treatment cost? Invisalign treatment generally costs between $3500 – $5000 depending on the patient’s needs, which is roughly the same cost of traditional braces. Insurance plans often cover up to $3500 of orthodontic treatment costs so depending on your insurance plan, you might be paying very little. We offer payment plans as well as a discounted dental plan for uninsured patients. You can estimate your cost using the Invisalign Cost Calculator on the Invisalign website.

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