Judith Ann Jones, DDS, a spokesman on elder care for the American Dental Association and director of The Center for Clinical Research at the Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine said that older Americans are keeping their natural teeth longer than ever before. This can be attributed to good dental health through regular dentist visits and a good knowledge on dental hygiene.
However, there are still common dental conditions that affect the average American on a daily basis. Thankfully there are easier fixes to help get our dental health back on track, and keep you smiling confidently.
This is an issue that can affect most age groups. According to the American Dental Association, the average person between the ages of 20 to 64 can have up to three missing or decaying teeth. Tooth decay can lead to missing teeth, which has an impact on the way a person eats and speaks. There are many options patients can choose from to replace their missing teeth with artificial ones through the use of devices such as dentures, implants or dental bridges.
To prevent yourself from developing tooth decay or treating pre-existing tooth decay, patients should look to Fluoride. Most Americans have flouride in their water supply, but you may also consider using a fluoride rinse after brushing or talking to your dentist about a fluoride gel. This chemical compound protects your teeth against demineralization, which can lead to cavities and decay.
Dry mouth natural occurs when we sleep or during physical activity when our mouth produces less or not enough saliva. Dry mouth can also be a side effect of some medications, smoking or the natural process of aging. Saliva protects our mouth from drying out and becoming an environment for decay. Saliva naturally cleanses the mouth and protects the teeth from demineralization. Low saliva production allows bacteria to break down tooth enamel and cause tooth decay. The increase in bacterial activity in the mouth also causes bad breath.
To prevent the onset of dry mouth, patients should make sure they drink enough water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Chewing sugar free or xylitol gum, as well as drinking water, stimulates saliva production and keeps your breath fresh.
If your teeth are not properly cleaned, food can become stuck between the teeth and cause a buildup of plaque. This substance is a mixture of bacteria, saliva, and food particles. The bacteria in plaque can produce acids that eat into tooth enamel and cause cavities and decay. The bacteria can also spread to the gums, causing an infection, called Gingivitis. This is the first stage of gum disease and causes your gums to become red, inflamed and bleed easily. If left untreated, Gingivitis can develop into advanced stages of gum disease, which have severe dental health consequences, such as receding gums, gum pockets and losing teeth and bone tissue.
The best way to maintain your oral health is to regularly visit the dentist, brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes and floss at least once a day. Speak to your dentist about your oral hygiene and what you can do to improve it. If you have a stage of gum disease, you may need to visit your dentist more regularly for treatment and cleanings.
There are three other relatively common dental conditions that occur among adult Americans that do not have quick, at home fixes or preventative measures. These three include oral cancer, teeth crowding and clenching or grinding of the teeth. In each of these conditions you will need to visit a dentist or orthodontist for a dental exam.
Keeping to your regular dental visits increases the chances of catching the early signs of oral cancer, which are easier to treat. Some of the first symptoms include red sores or patches of swelling in the mouth or throat. Your dentist will be able to look at your dental history and oral health and advise you on the way forward.
Patients will need to visit an orthodontist if they suffer from teeth crowding, or overlapping teeth. An orthodontist will be able to evaluate if the condition can be fixed through the use of braces, retainers or a spacer. An orthodontist will also be able to help patients who clench or grind their teeth by creating a custom made mouth guard to prevent them from damaging their own teeth.