Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful older people are works of art.” How true! If you care for yourself, mind, body, and spirit, you just might live to be a hundred… without looking it. So how do you go about caring for yourself in order to age gracefully? How about starting with your teeth? Did you know that, if not properly cared for, your teeth can make you look older even more than your skin? In a recent survey on perception of age, participants were shown photos of adults ages 40 to 90. When asked how old they thought the people in the pictures were, those with bad teeth were thought to be as much as 20 years older than they actually were in reality! But a younger, more attractive appearance isn’t the only reason to keep your teeth healthy as you age. It’s also been learned in recent medical studies that tooth decay may be directly linked to some medical conditions, including heart disease and diabetes. That’s why dental offices recommend the following tips for keeping your teeth healthy as you move from one stage of your life into the next.
By now, you’re wise enough to know that certain organs in your body need certain amounts of certain vitamins and minerals to thrive. The same, of course, is true for your teeth and all of their surrounding structures. Some of the most vital nutrients to your teeth include calcium, phosphorous, vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, protein, and vitamin D. (And, bonus, if you eat a diet that contains all of these nutrients, the rest of your body will benefit as well!) Here’s a list of foods that are rich in each of these nutrients.
Milk, kale, yogurt, collard greens, frozen yogurt, and cheese.
Broccoli, cottage cheese, corn, peanut butter, turkey, and chicken.
Orange juice and oranges, pineapple and pineapple juice, cauliflower, snow peas, and white potatoes.
Carrots, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables such as romaine lettuce, and butternut squash.
Beef, liver, oysters, clams, turkey, pumpkin seeds, and eggs.
Chicken, fish, pork, cheese, beef, eggs, and beans.
Salmon, tuna, mackerel, egg yolks, beef, milk, cheese, and yogurt.
Aging teeth and dry mouth
As we age, many of us begin taking regular medications for conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, and some of these medications are known to cause dry mouth. So what, you ask? Because dry mouth often leads to tooth decay. The reason for this is that saliva is very useful and necessary for washing away the bad bacteria that cause tooth decay. If you find yourself prone to dry mouth as you age, reach for sugarless gum or candies that will help to replenish saliva within your mouth in order to better wash away that nasty bacteria. There are also sprays available such as Biotene that help to produce more saliva in the mouth.
Regular dental checkups
Sadly, many folks skip this step as they get older. Over and above your regular brushing and flossing routine, it’s vital that you continue those bi-annual dental checkups. In fact, it’s at least as important now as it was when you were a kid. Your dentist can see changes going on in your mouth long before you’ll notice or even feel them. Additionally, if you’re a tobacco user, many experts recommend adding a third checkup each year to your formerly two-a-year schedule. The reason for this is that behaviors such as smoking and chewing tobacco are notorious for causing oral cancers. Your dentist will be able to recognize issues within your mouth that may lead to oral cancer and recommend countermeasures for its prevention.
The great news about teeth is that they’re probably the easiest thing to care for, especially as we age. Healthy teeth typically are just a matter of observing a healthy oral hygiene routine. From a beautiful, gleaming smile, to pleasant breath, to avoiding tooth decay and more, keeping teeth healthy as you age doesn’t have to be hard, and it doesn’t have to be time consuming either. Get the right nutrients in your diet; maintain a good oral hygiene routine; prevent dry mouth, especially if you’re on regular medications; and continue your regular checkups with a dental office in Clearwater. These are the most effective steps to a healthy, vibrant smile that will last a lifetime!