Surbiton dentist, Dr Minesh Patel provides some useful tips for older patients.
Ideally, almost from the word ‘go’, you will have avoided eating or drinking anything that damages your teeth, as well as diligently cleaning your teeth twice a day. In addition to this, you will never have missed a dental appointment at all. Does this apply to you? Likely not, and a large number of us have probably neglected our oral care at least to some degree at some stage.
Few of us are ‘saints’, and unless you are a rare exception, there may be some concerns about the condition of your teeth as you approach and pass middle age, and head towards the later years of your life.
This shouldn’t mean that all is lost though. With some useful advice that we offer below, and perhaps some occasional restorative work carried out at the Confidental Clinic Surbiton, there is no good reason why you shouldn’t have strong and healthy teeth later on in life.
This doesn’t mean that you have to follow a restricted diet at all, but to eat a good selection of foods that are largely tooth friendly. Try to keep foods that are high in sugars and starches to a sensible level and make sure to consume mineral rich foods, such as dairy products, that will help to keep your tooth enamel strong and healthy.
Brush and floss
Brushing your teeth is the cornerstone of good oral health care. Around 80% of us though, never, or rarely, use dental floss. This can be a little tricky to get the hang of, but will pay dividends when you have mastered it. Flossing removes plaque and food pieces from between the teeth and just under the gum line. It is a practise that is worth persevering with. Our dental hygienist is always happy to show you how to do this during a consultation, so don’t be afraid to ask! This is a great simple addition that will help to prevent both decay and gum disease.
The dentist is your friend
People do miss dental appointments from time to time for legitimate reasons. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but you should always make sure to re-book any appointment that you have to cancel so that your teeth can be checked regularly. Most people will need to have at least some minor restorative dental work during their life, and it is better to have this done before the problem becomes more serious. Regular six monthly appointments should be sufficient for this. If you are a nervous dental patient, please talk to us, we can often help you so that you can access regular dental care.
Watch out for anxiety
Not always, but our later years can be less stressful. We have perhaps accepted where we are in life and no longer feel the need for constant ambition. This is not always the case though, and situations can arise in later life that can cause us to become anxious. This can lead to not only ‘comfort eating’ where we tend to eat a lot of high sugar foods, but also bruxism, where we grind our teeth at night. Given that older teeth have usually suffered more wear and tear than younger teeth, this may cause them to crack and fracture. Try to keep your stress levels down where you can and perhaps seek medical guidance to assist.
If you have suffered from broken teeth due to this problem, our Surbiton dentists can help to restore damaged teeth using various techniques. Please ask for advice at your next appointment.
Smoking and drinking
For some of our older patients, both of these habits would have been commonplace when they were younger. Sharing cigarettes and ‘getting your round in’ were two commonplace social occurrences. Although some may mourn this ‘loss of community’, few would argue that these are now good habits to have. Smoking especially, is very harmful to your teeth and gums, with excessive alcohol consumption not far behind. If you still partake in these activities, seek help to stop. It will make a big difference to your oral and overall health.
Keep your oral care essentials up to date
One of the biggest errors that people make is to continue to use a toothbrush for much too long. For some people, this is just habit, whilst for others, the toothbrush feels more comfortable once it has been ‘worn in’. Unfortunately, when a toothbrush reaches this stage, it is much less effective at cleaning your teeth. If your brush (or electric brush head) is more than three months old, or the bristles look worn, it is time to replace it.
Mind the snacking
The days of regular three square meals a day seem to have long gone. The availability of ready prepared food means that we can eat as and when we want to do. This does present challenges for our teeth though. Not only are many ready made foods high in sugar, but constant eating means that our teeth don’t get time to recover in between snacks and are more likely to suffer from damage. Ideally, regular meals and minimal snacking is the way to go, but if you can’t stick rigidly to this, at least try to keep the principle in mind.
Finally, ditch the sugary drinks! Water is the best thirst quencher that there is and is great for your teeth too. Not only will staying well hydrated reduce the risk of gum disease, but will also help to rinse away residual food and bacteria from in between your teeth.
If you follow the advice above, you stand a good chance of having healthy and functional teeth, well into your old age. Where teeth fail, or problems occur, there are procedures at the Confidental Clinic that can be used to restore them. Increasingly, older people are also concerned about the way that their teeth look. If this applies to you, please ask us about our range of cosmetic dental procedures that can help to restore a great looking smile.
To arrange to see one of our Surbiton dental team, please call us on 020 8399 1291.