Unfortunately, none of us are getting any younger. While it does beat the alternative, growing old provides some challenges, including maintaining good oral health. Good oral health provides a good foundation for overall health, so overcoming these challenges is important.

To help people achieve and maintain optimum oral health, the American Geriatric Society (AGS) recently issued its guidelines for oral health. The recommendations from the AGS are all based on the most recent science, so they represent a significant authority when it comes to your best practices.

Here are some of the most important guidelines from the AGS.

woman discussing her dental care needs in the office

What to Give up to Protect Oral Health

Perhaps the most clear-cut recommendation from the AGS is that you should not smoke or chew tobacco. Both cigarettes and chewing tobacco have been strongly linked to increasing your long-term risk of gum disease and tooth loss.

Similarly, you should give up foods that are high in sugar. This includes obvious favorites like coke and candy, but it can also include sources of hidden sugar like sauces and dressings. We know everyone loves great barbecue, but don’t go too crazy with the sauce.

In addition to oral health risks, both of the above are linked to major heart problems, putting you at risk for poor health and even an early death.

And consider some of the things you’re being asked to take by your doctor. Many medications cause dry mouth, which puts your oral health at risk. If you do experience dry mouth, ask your doctor about alternatives that might not cause the same level of dry mouth. If you need the medication and there aren’t alternatives, talk to us about ways to deal with dry mouth.

How to Protect Oral Health

The AGS also gave recommendations about how to promote good oral health. The AGS notes that this is particularly important for people with replacement joints or heart valves, which might be more vulnerable to infection. However, the AGS notes that it’s not necessary to get antibiotics before going to the dentist with one of these concerns.

Home Hygiene Routine

Your home hygiene routine is critical to protecting your oral health. Although you might not think of it as hygiene, the AGS recommends chewing  sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production. Saliva washes food debris from your teeth, and it kills bacteria. Plus gum helps remove debris and bacteria from your teeth.

You should also brush and floss every day to make sure your teeth stay clean. These hygiene tasks were never easy to do right, but now it can be much harder as your manual dexterity may not be what it once was. Tools like an electric toothbrush, floss holders, and water flossers can all make it easier to clean your teeth.

If you have a history of tooth decay or gum disease, we might recommend adding mouthwash to your routine.

Professional Care Matters

In addition to steps you can take at home, the AGS recommends that you see a dentist for professional hygiene and checkups at least twice a year. This includes people who have lost all their teeth to gum disease or other causes in the past. While dentures and dental implants can’t develop tooth decay, there are other reasons to see a dentist.

We can adjust your replacement teeth, or look out for other health concerns, including cancerous or precancerous oral lesions.

Help Maintaining Oral Health in Wichita Falls

The additional challenges of maintaining good oral health as we get older is simply part of the process of aging. However, you don’t have to do it alone. The experienced Wichita Falls dentists at StarImage Dentistry can help you restore or maintain optimal oral health. Please call 940-322-2252 today for an appointment with one of our outstanding dentists.