According to a recent report by the University of Michigan, a significant number of middle-aged Americans are at risk of oral health complications. Worldwide, almost 98% percent of adults suffer from cavities, as well as 20% suffering from gum disease, statistics which only increase the older we get.
Although there isn’t any clear answer as to why aging puts our oral health at risk, there are several steps we can take to ensure we don’t become a statistic.
You Have To Floss
We know you’ve been told before. However, studies show that a significant number of adults either never learned to floss correctly or ignore it altogether. It takes around twenty-four hours for plaque to form, which is why flossing daily is critical to your oral health.
Gum disease is especially troublesome for middle-aged adults, affecting nearly sixty-four million Americans thirty and older, and because brushing can’t reach in-between teeth or below the gum line, the best way to prevent plaque buildup leading to gum recession is by properly flossing.
To protect your gum line (and yourself), keep these tips in mind.
- Start with about fifteen inches of floss, waxed nylon is typical chosen to prevent fraying, wrapped between each middle finger.
- Keep floss taut, and gently insert between your teeth.
- Curve floss around the base of each tooth, maneuvering in “waxing” motion and dipping below the gum line periodically.
- Make sure to use clean sections of floss for each tooth!
- If you have difficulty with floss, consider flossers, interdental cleaners, and oral irrigators
But the most important thing is to just floss. You can improve your technique over time. If you aren’t a flosser, focus on starting the habit now, and get better at it over time.
Stay On Top of Brushing
Added to flossing, you should brush your teeth twice a day. Critically, make sure you’re brushing just before you go to bed. To most effectively brush, make gentle circular motions at a forty-five degree angle perpendicular to your gum line. According to the American Dental Association, you should brush your teeth for at least two minutes, and don’t forget to replace toothbrushes after three-four months.
Are You Using the Right Tools?
With toothbrushes that sing to us for as long as we should be brushing to sonic toothbrushes, it can be difficult to choose the right tools to protect our mouths. Before you go out and buy the most expensive toothbrush available, however, you might want to check out Consumer Reports.
The benefits of using an electric toothbrush vs a traditional toothbrush don’t seem to be significant unless you’re using poor technique or lack dexterity due to a medical condition.
Oral Irrigators, however, are a different story. These cool devices use a stream of water to remove plaque at the gum line, and could be up to 50% more effective than floss, making it an ideal candidate for preventing gum disease
Perhaps the best way to protect yourself from oral health complications is by scheduling cleanings twice a year, as well as checkups. By regularly seeing a dentist, you can prevent small issues from becoming larger ones, costing you both money and irritation in the future.