September is Healthy Aging Month! Celebrate With a Smile

healthy-aging-monthAs the years go by and our bodies begin to age, it is inevitable that physical changes will ensue. Graying hairs, wrinkles, stiffening joints, and increased fragility are all common factors of aging. Oftentimes, these physical changes are viewed as unfavorable milestones. Yet if you take care of your body properly, aging can be a beautiful process that, as this month entails, is worth celebrating. Read on to find out how to best take care of your oral and total-body health to ensure that your aging process looks and feels as graceful as it should.

What happens to our oral health as we age?

After years and years of chewing and crunching, the enamel of our teeth begins to wear down. The enamel is the thin, tough outer layer of the tooth that protects it through daily use. When this layer wears down, the teeth become more susceptible to cavities and decay, and the teeth can become more sensitive. To avoid excessive wear and tear, do not chew on ice or crunch on hard foods. A misaligned bite or teeth can also cause damage to the enamel, as the teeth grind or clench together, especially during sleep. This issue is called bruxism and can be helped by using a nightguard or with Invisalign®, which is a system of custom-made, clear aligners. While night guards help reduce damage, Invisalign can solve the underlying causes of your concerns while also giving your smile a cosmetic boost. If you think you may be grinding your teeth, talk to Dr. Bowen or Dr. Gehlert about treatment options to ensure your teeth are protected, aligned, and healthy.

Practicing good, consistent dental hygiene is key to keeping your teeth and mouth healthy as you age. In the mouth, bacteria are constantly building up. Brushing and flossing help clear away this buildup, but if neglected, this may cause swelling, soreness, bleeding, and eventually damaging infection to the bone under the teeth. This can lead to gum disease (periodontitis), which damages the bone around the teeth and may cause tooth loss. Aligned teeth are generally easier to clean and, therefore, less prone to decay. If you are looking for ways to boost your oral health, ask our team more about Invisalign.

What impact does oral health have on an aging body?

Bacteria buildup in the mouth presents issues for your health—beyond just your teeth and gums. The mouth is a point of entry for the digestive and respiratory systems, so excess bacteria from the mouth can travel through the body. Over the years, your immune system decreases in efficiency. This means that diseases and infections in the body can develop and spread from your mouth more easily as you age. Better brush up!

If keeping your teeth and gums healthy isn’t reason enough to brush and floss, know that neglecting your oral care could contribute to the risk of heart disease! There is a known connection between heart disease and the inflammation and infection in oral bacteria. In addition, bacteria in gum disease have been linked with age-related cognitive diseases, like Alzheimer’s; inflammatory diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis; lung problems, like pneumonia; and even shorter lifespans.

The best solutions?

Oral care is critical for people of all ages—especially seniors. Since excellent oral hygiene fights tooth loss (an all-too-common problem for seniors), boosts the immune system, and reduces the risk of many serious diseases and conditions, biannual dental visits are key. At home, promote overall health and wellness. Stay active for periodontal and total-body health, eat a balanced diet full of tooth-strengthening vitamins and minerals, and, of course, brush and floss. By making wellness a priority, you can maintain your health, happiness, and smile—no matter your age.

Aging may seem like an intimidating process. Taking care of your oral health is an easy way to keep teeth, gums, and total body happy and protected. Be sure to book your biannual appointments with our team at 614.459.2300 today!

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