Busy baby boomers often leave their dental health languishing at the bottom of their long lists of priorities. After all, a dental check-up isn’t as exciting as traveling the world, watching children graduate from college, or celebrating milestones with the grandkids. But neglecting dental health is never a good idea: leaving problems untreated can lead to expensive and painful procedures being required in the future.
Baby boomers are coming into the at-risk age group for serious and progressive dental problems, such as worn enamel, receding gums, and periodontitis. It is essential to look out for the warning signs of these common dental issues and see your dentist immediately if you have any concerns.
As we age, the protective enamel that coats the teeth gets thinner and weaker. This decline can be slowed by brushing every day with a toothpaste that is approved by the American Dental Association. Eating a healthy diet is also essential – make sure you get plenty of enamel-strengthening calcium by consuming three servings of dairy products each day.
Enamel protects the root of the tooth. As your enamel wears away, you may find that your teeth are more sensitive. If brushing with toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth does not alleviate this problem, see your dentist for further treatment options, such as applying a sealant to the affected teeth.
Thinning enamel is one of the primary causes of yellow teeth, as the inner part of the tooth is gradually exposed to view. Some common whitening treatments, such as bleaching, can further wear down the enamel. Baby boomers who want to whiten their smiles should consider having veneers fitted. Veneers are very thin pieces of ceramic that are applied over a person’s own teeth. They can be quickly applied in a dentist’s office and usually cost around $1,000-$3,000 per tooth.
Many baby boomers are noticing that their mouths are much drier places than they used to be. Saliva production slows down with age, and that’s bad news for teeth, which rely on a healthy flow of saliva to wash away plaque and bacteria. Baby boomers can compensate by sipping water throughout the day to prevent their mouths drying out.
It’s not only hairlines that recede with age: gums can do so too. Decades of over-zealous brushing wears down the gums, so make a commitment today to be gentler when brushing. Use a soft toothbrush and work your way slowly and carefully over the teeth, taking at least three minutes to clean all of them.
Everyone likes to think that they will keep their own teeth into old age, but the reality is that many people will eventually be forced to have them removed. Periodontitis, a disease in which the tissue holding the teeth in place becomes inflamed, is a common reason for tooth extractions in older people. If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth, you may be suffering from periodontitis. You can reduce your risk of periodontitis by flossing regularly to remove plaque, which harbors the bacteria that attack the periodontal tissue. Dentists can sometimes save the teeth of people with periodontitis through periodontal surgery, which is more likely to be successful if it is performed early.
Keeping Your Teeth Healthy: A Guide for Baby Boomers
Baby boomers can avoid these dental problems by maintaining a good oral hygiene routine consisting of daily brushing, flossing, and mouthwash. Eating healthily is also important for keeping your teeth healthy during later life. If you develop symptoms of any of these common dental issues, see your dentist as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.