Awareness of the oral-health conditions you are likely to face at different stages of life can help you stay a step ahead of potential dental problems, and build a lifetime of healthy smiles.
Dental Health: Adults
Risk factors for dental health are often tied to overall health. Diann Bomkamp, a clinical dental hygienist and president of the American Dental Hygienists' Association, cites smoking and certain medications as risk factors for periodontal disease. "There's a direct relation between gum disease and other diseases," says Ms. Bomkamp. "If you're on medications for high blood pressure or epilepsy, or have diabetes, visit our office on a more routine basis." (To learn more, read Dental Health and Overall Health.) If you are taking medication for these conditions or have diabetes, talk to our dentist about how often you should go for checkups, as it may be best to go in more often than every six months. Additionally, people of all ages can drink fluoridated water to reduce the likelihood of tooth decay. Most cities have fluoride in tap water — however, the majority of bottled waters do not. If your water source doesn't have fluoride, talk to our dentist about fluoride supplements
Dental Health: Older Adults
Even as people are living longer, more older adults are keeping their natural teeth. However, older adults still need to visit our dentist regularly, as they are at increased risk of developing throat and oral cancers (especially those who smoke or drink alcohol heavily). Bomkamp notes that older adults also have an increased risk of dry mouth and may be on a number of medications that affect oral health. For those with dentures, Bomkamp finds, "Many older patients don't think they need to go to the dentist, but they might not be cleaning their dentures correctly." If your gums are red and swollen, check in with our dentist, it may be a sign your dentures don't fit anymore.