Chances are, the longer you have been living, the more oral health challenges you have had to face. Medications and health problems with other parts of your body can adversely affect your teeth and gums — and if your mouth is unhealthy, you can be at risk for health complications such as stroke and heart disease. Fortunately, even if you have dentures, there are steps you can take to treat oral conditions and keep your mouth — and the rest of you — healthy for years to come. The American Dental Association recommends the following:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush, being sure to gently aim for the part of your teeth along the gum line.
- Floss once a day to remove hard-to-reach food particles between the teeth and under your gum line.
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are starting to look worn.
- Consider also using an anti-bacterial mouthwash (be aware, though, that some can increase dry mouth). Ask your dentist about other anti-bacterial treatments that are now available.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, ideally fluoridated, throughout the day. As you get older, you produce less saliva, and a dry mouth is vulnerable to attack by bacteria. Fluoride helps repel the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Check with your dentist to find out how much fluoride you should be getting.
- Maintain an up-to-date list of all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medicines and vitamin supplements. Be sure to share this list with your dentist, as some medications can cause dry mouth or other issues that affect your oral health.
- If you wear dentures, remember to clean them every day with cleansers and/or overnight soaking solutions. Take your dentures out of your mouth for at least four hours every day, preferably overnight. To stay healthy, the lining of your mouth needs time to rejuvenate.
- If you have natural teeth, schedule regular cleanings (at least twice a year) at your dentist's office.
- If you have dentures, visit your dentist annually to have the fit of your dentures checked and the tissue that supports them carefully examined.