The key to keeping a bright, healthy smile throughout adulthood is to practice proper oral hygiene. Even adults can get cavities, as well as gum disease, that can lead to serious problems. Throughout your adult life, it’s important to continue to:
- BRUSH twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste to remove PLAQUE- the sticky film on your teeth that’s the main cause of tooth decay.
- FLOSS daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and under your gum line, before it can harden into TARTAR. Once tartar has formed, it can only be removed by a professional cleaning.
- Limit sugary or starchy foods, especially sticky snacks. The more often you snack between meals, the more chances you give the acids in plaque to attack your tooth enamel.
- Visit your dentist at least twice yearly for professional cleanings and checkups.
What special dental issues should I be aware of as an adult?
Even if you brush and floss regularly, you may face certain oral health issues as an adult. Luckily, Dr. Pile can help you meet most of these challenges quite successfully.
- Gingivitis: which is the early stage of periodontal disease and at this point, is still reversible. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen or tender gums that tend to bleed when you brush them. If you notice any of these symptoms, see your dentist before serious problems develop. Advanced stages of gum disease may lead to tooth loss.
- PERIODONTAL DISEASE: The HEALTH of your gums can also affect your overall health. Recent studies have shown a possible link between PERIODONTAL DISEASE (gum disease) and other diseases, such as DIABETES, HEART DISEASE and a possible link to PREMATURE BIRTHS. To prevent gum disease from getting started in the first place, be sure to brush twice a day, floss daily and schedule professional cleanings every six months.
- Cavities around existing fillings (called recurrent decay) and decay on the root surfaces of the teeth become more common as we age. So it’s important to brush with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and see your dentist regularly.
- SENSITIVITY: can be an increasing problem as one ages. Your gums naturally recede over time, exposing areas of the tooth that are not protected by enamel. These areas are particularly prone to pain due to cold or hot foods or beverages. In severe cases cold air, as well as sensitivity to sour and sweet drinks and foods, can occur. If you experience sensitivity, try anti-sensitivity toothpaste. If the problem persists, see Dr. Pile, as the sensitivity may be an indication of a more serious condition, such as a cavity or a cracked/fractured tooth.
- Crowns are used to strengthen damaged teeth. A crown entirely covers or “caps” a damaged tooth. Besides strengthening a damaged tooth, a crown can be used to improve its appearance, shape or alignment. Implants and bridges are used to replace missing ones. Dental implants replace one or more teeth or are used to attach full or partial dentures. Consult with Dr. Pile to see if implants are right for you. Bridges are commonly used to replace one or more missing teeth. They span the space where the teeth are missing. Bridges are cemented to the natural teeth or implants surrounding the empty space.
- Each time you consume foods and drinks that contain sugars or starches, such as POP and SPORTS DRINKS the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack your teeth for 20 minutes or more. To reduce damage to your tooth enamel, limit the number or between meal snacks and drinks. And when you do snack, choose nutritious foods such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt or fruit.