How to keep your teeth healthy as you age
Growing old doesn’t mean a person has to lose his or her teeth – keeping your teeth requires personal maintenance and responsibility.
Poor oral health can cause diseases that affect the bones that hold the teeth in place, which can lead to tooth loss and the need for dentures.
“When I look at a person’s teeth, I am looking into their overall health,” says Dr. Yetta McCullom, periodontic dentist at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. “Most people who lose their teeth have other underlying health issues.”
Research has shown that poor oral health can lead to diabetes, heart and cardiovascular diseases, stroke and obesity. Dentures take 10 years off a person’s overall life, according to the American Dental Association.
“Some of these issues can cause loss of teeth,” says Dr. McCullom. “These are all serious issues. Your mouth is truly the window to what kind of life you have led.”
In addition, not taking care of one’s teeth it can lead to bleeding gums, bad breath, shifting teeth and even puss inside the mouth. The ADA suggests adults 60 years old and older brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss and visit the dentist regularly.
For those experiencing gum disease, Dr. McCullom says there is a new way to attack oral problems that uses a laser procedure to treat the condition.
A laser fiber about the diameter of three human hairs is inserted between the gum and the tooth, then the dentist can reach around every tooth and bone, creating a pocket which encourages bone regeneration.
“We of course would like to avoid having to do any surgery, but if a problem persist, at least we know how to take care of it thoroughly,” says Dr. McCullom. “But, I remind my patients that nothing keeps the laser away better than good oral health.”
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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.