No matter what your age, you need to take care of your teeth and mouth.
When your mouth is healthy, you can easily eat the foods you need for good nutrition.
Smiling, talking, and laughing with others also are easier when your mouth is healthy.
Tooth Decay (Cavities)
Teeth are meant to last a lifetime. By taking good care of your teeth and
gums, you can protect them for years to come. Tooth decay is not just a
problem for children. It can happen as long as you have natural teeth in your
Tooth decay ruins the enamel that covers and protects your teeth.
When you don't take good care of your mouth, bacteria can cling to
your teeth and form a sticky, colorless film called dental plaque. This
plaque can lead to tooth decay and cavities. Gum disease can also cause
your teeth to decay.
Fluoride is just as helpful for adults as
it is for children. Using a fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse can help
protect your teeth. If you have a problem with cavities, your dentist or
dental hygienist may give you a fluoride treatment during the office visit.
The dentist also may prescribe a fluoride gel or mouth rinse for you to use at home.
Gum diseases (sometimes called periodontal or gingival diseases) are
infections that harm the gum and bone that hold teeth in place.
When plaque stays on your teeth too long, it forms a hard, harmful covering,
called tartar, that brushing doesn't clean. The longer the plaque and
tartar stay on your teeth, the more damage they cause. Your gums may become
red, swollen, and bleed easily. This is called gingivitis.
If gingivitis is not treated, over time it can make your gums pull away from
your teeth and form pockets that can get infected. This is called
periodontitis. If not treated, this infection can ruin the bones, gums, and
tissue that support your teeth. In time, it can cause loose teeth that your
dentist may have to remove.
Here's how you can prevent gum
- Brush your teeth twice a day (with a fluoride toothpaste).
- Floss once a day.
- Make regular visits to your dentist for a checkup and cleaning.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Don't use tobacco products.
Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums
Knowing how to brush and floss the right way is a big part of good oral health.
Here's how: every day gently brush your teeth on all sides with a
soft-bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste. Small round motions and short
back-and-forth strokes work best. Take the time to brush carefully and
gently along the gum line. Lightly brushing your tongue also helps.
Along with brushing, clean around your teeth with dental floss to keep your
gums healthy. Careful flossing will remove plaque and leftover food that a
toothbrush can't reach. Rinse after you floss.
If brushing or flossing causes your gums to bleed or hurt your mouth, see
Your dentist also may prescribe a bacteria-fighting mouth rinse to help
control plaque and swollen gums.
Use the mouth rinse in addition to careful daily brushing and flossing.
Some people with arthritis or other conditions that limit motion may find
it hard to hold a toothbrush. It may help to attach the toothbrush handle
to your hand with a wide elastic band. Some people make the handle bigger
by taping it to a sponge or Styrofoam ball. People with limited shoulder
movement may find brushing easier if they attach a long piece of wood
or plastic to the handle. Electric toothbrushes can be helpful.
Dentures (sometimes called false teeth) may feel strange at first.
When you are learning to eat with them, it may be easier if you:
- Start with soft non-sticky food;
- Cut your food into small pieces; and
- Chew slowly using both sides of your mouth.
Dentures may make your mouth less sensitive to hot foods and liquids.
They also may make it harder for you to notice harmful objects such
as bones, so be careful. During the first few weeks you have dentures,
your dentist may want to see you often to make sure they fit. Over time,
your mouth changes and your dentures may need to be replaced or adjusted.
Be sure to let your dentist handle these adjustments.
Keep your dentures clean and free from food that can cause stains, bad breath,
or swollen gums. Once a day, brush all surfaces with a denture care product.
When you go to sleep, take your dentures out of your mouth and put them in
water or a denture cleansing liquid.
Take care of partial dentures
the same way. Because bacteria can collect under the clasps (clips) that
hold partial dentures, be sure to carefully clean that area.
Dental implants are small metal pieces placed in the jaw to hold false
teeth or partial dentures in place. They are not for everyone. You need
a complete dental and medical checkup to find out if implants are right
for you. Your gums must be healthy and your jawbone able to support the
implants. Talk to your dentist to find out if you should think about
Doctors used to think that dry mouth (xerostomia) was a normal part
of aging. They now know that's not true. Older,
healthy adults shouldn't have a problem with saliva.
Dry mouth happens when salivary glands don't work properly.
This can make it hard to eat, swallow, taste, and even speak.
Dry mouth also can add to the risk of tooth decay and infection.
You can get dry mouth from many diseases or medical treatments, such
as head and neck radiation therapy. Many common medicines also can
cause dry mouth.
If you think you have dry mouth, talk with your dentist or doctor to find
out why. If your dry mouth is caused by a medicine you take, your doctor
might change your medicine or dosage.
To prevent the dryness, drink extra water. Cut back on sugary snacks,
drinks that have caffeine or alcohol, and tobacco. Your dentist or doctor
also might suggest that you keep your mouth wet by using artificial saliva,
which you can get from most drug stores. Some people benefit from sucking
Oral cancer most often occurs in people over age 40. It's important
to catch oral cancer early, because treatment works best before the disease
has spread. Pain often is not an early symptom of the disease.
A dental check-up is a good time for your dentist to look for early signs
of oral cancer. Even if you have lost all your natural teeth, you should
still see your dentist for regular oral cancer exams. See your dentist or
doctor if you have trouble with swelling, numbness, sores, or lumps in your
mouth, or if it becomes hard for you to chew, swallow, or move your jaw or
tongue. These problems could be signs of oral cancer.
Here's how you can lower your risk of getting oral cancer: don't
smoke; don't use snuff or chew tobacco; if you drink alcohol, do so in
moderation; use lip cream with sunscreen; and eat lots of fruits and vegetables.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
publishes information on oral, dental, and craniofacial research and oral health care.
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) Building 45, Room 4AS19
45 Center Drive MSC 6400 Bethesda, MD 20892-6400 301-496-4261
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.nidr.nih.gov
The American Dental Association (ADA) provides information about oral
American Dental Association (ADA)
211 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
For more information about health and aging call or write:
National Institute on Aging
P.O. Box 8057
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057
NIA publishes fact sheets on various health related topics of interest
to older people and their families. For a complete listing of
publications, call or write to the above address.
National Institute on Aging
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
National Institutes of Health
This document sourced from the
Alzheimer's Disease Education and
a service of the National Institute on Aging.
Our teeth are important for many reasons. Most of us like to keep them healthy and clean so that we have a nice bright smile and have the ability to eat whatever we like. Healthy teeth, however, can be important for many other things as well, including one of the most important means of communication – speech.
Speech is a combination of phonetic sounds created by a your teeth, lips, and tongue. Usually if your teeth are creating a speech impediment, the F, V, S, T and E sounds are affected the most. The physical structure of your mouth and teeth or the shape and length of your tongue also all have a part in how well you can speak.
Even if your teeth don’t have any structural problems or blockages causing speech slurring, lisps or other issues, the color or length of your front teeth (discolored teeth, “rabbit/buck” teeth, or “vampire” teeth, etc.) can also change your speech. Often times, in order to hide dental flaws, the speaker tends to mumble more and speak with their lips partially covering their teeth. Over time, this can change the volume, tone, and overall speech pattern of the speaker. As the muscles are used over and over again in an unnatural manner, the facial muscles become more rigid and less flexible, making it more difficult to change the pattern later on in life.
Getting any work done on your teeth that involves changing the shape of your teeth or realigning your teeth outwardly (or inwardly) can be a huge and important procedure for many reasons. Even a slight miscalculation could mean that although your smile is perfect, your speech is forcing your facial muscles to becoming over fatigued after a lot of talking.
If you feel like your teeth are preventing you from fully expressing yourself or if you have any questions, call Candlewood Dental Care at 203-746-1200 or make an appointment at our New Fairfied, CT office here. Dr. Lorraine Burio has been treating patients with cosmetic and other dental issues for over twenty-five years.