Baby Boomers’ Teeth are “Coming of Age”
The “Baby Boomers,” those of us born between 1947-1965, have high expectations for our teeth. Not only do we want them to last a lifetime, we want our smiles to look young and healthy. It’s no secret that regular check-ups and proper oral hygiene can help keep your teeth healthy, but on a daily basis, here are some additional things I recommend for maintaining the best smile.
Plug it in: Use an electric power toothbrush. Choose the best you can afford, preferably one with a small diameter head, and replace the brush heads regularly. Power brushes clean teeth better, are gentler on the gums, and are easier to handle. We recommend Rotodent, Oral B Braun, and Sonicare.
Tap the tap: Many adults drink bottled water regularly, and they forget that unlike public water supplies, bottled water does not go through fluoridation (the addition of fluorides to the water supply to reduce the incidence of tooth decay). Fluoride strengthens teeth and kills bacteria, an important benefit you don’t want to overlook. Drinking tap water is an easy way to regularly expose the teeth to fluoride. At Dental Health and Wellness Boston, we recommend a fluoride varnish treatment after your cleaning and prescription mouthwash or gels that provide fluoride necessary to protect your teeth.
Neutralize: The occasional burp or heart burn may indicate what restaurants to avoid in the future or may be a telltale sign that you are suffering from a condition known as Acid Reflux or G.E.R.D. Left untreated, the acid from your stomach that makes its way into your mouth will erode away your teeth. This process can lead to extensive tooth loss and destruction that could require major crown work to rebuild the teeth. Ask your physician for tests or medications to treat this sometimes silent condition that ruins teeth.
Replace what you’ve lost: After years of use, abuse, and dental work, sometimes a tooth is no longer savable and needs to be extracted. Especially, when it is a back tooth, people will sometimes opt to not replace it. This is a mistake. A single missing tooth can allow other teeth to shift and change the way you bite. When a few teeth are missing, you can start to overuse the remaining teeth and risk loosening and harming them over time. If you have the option, save any tooth you can with root canals or crowns, and if that isn’t possible, replace the missing teeth with dental implants or a fixed dental bridge.
Bone up: Osteoporosis can lead to the weakening of the jawbone and ultimately the loss of teeth due to accelerated periodontal disease. Osteoporosis affects men and women, but is most seen in postmenopausal women with a slight build. Have your bone density levels monitored and tested and take the needed medications to remineralize your bones and keep them healthy. A diet rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin D and calcium are all necessary to support healthy bones.
Avoid the daily grind: If you grind or clench your teeth at night, you have a condition known as bruxism. Investing in a custom-fitted dentist-fabricated mouth guard is critical to protect your teeth from this condition. Step 1 – get it. Step 2 – wear it. I am continually surprised by how common nocturnal bruxism is and how much damage it causes the teeth. It also surprises me that some people are hesitant to invest $600 dollars (or more) to protect their teeth from potentially thousands of dollars of dental work necessary to relieve pain.
Hygienists at our Boston Dentist Office have Extensive Dental Care Knowledge
Listen to your dental hygienist: These lovely individuals have great tricks up their sleeves. They can help you develop a customized home dental care routine and recommend brushing and flossing techniques that help remove plaque. They can teach you how to check your gums for signs of gum disease, and even save your life by detecting oral cancer. As we age, the gums recede and sometimes flossing isn’t enough. Our hygienists often recommend small interproximal brushes dipped in Tooth and Gum Tonic or Peridex chlorohexadine gluconate in addition to flossing alone.
During your next visit, ask about how often you should have your teeth cleaned. Many adults need to have professional teeth cleanings more than every six months. At Dental Health and Wellness Boston, we believe that healthy teeth and gums are something to smile about. Remember, the investment in good dental care will really pay off over time.
-Dr. Jill B. Smith, DMD