Look after your Teeth, Gums and Mouth
Your teeth are like a tiara, a row of jewels embedded in a framework, and rightly we pay great attention to the teeth throughout life but no matter how good your teeth may be it is the health of your gums that determines whether or not you lose your teeth from 60 on
What are we talking about?
This may seem obvious but usually most of the focus is on the teeth but there are three parts of the mouth that need attention – the teeth, the gums and the soft tissues of the mouth namely the tongue and the linings of the cheeks. All three are important and need care and attention.
The affects of ageing are relatively minor compared with the effects of disease with the most common disease in the mouth as we live longer being gum disease or periodontal disease, with the word periodontal meaning 'around the teeth'.
Loss of teeth has always been seen as part of ageing but is in fact the result of disease, not so much disease of the teeth but disease of the gums.
People who have smoked a lot need to be aware too that cancer can occur in the soft tissues of the mouth and even if a person who has stopped smoking for some years or decades needs be aware of an ulcer on the tongue or anywhere else inside the month is not normal
How can you minimise the effects of ageing and living longer?
The most important thing you can do is to give high priority to looking after your mouth probably a minute for every decade of your life is a good rule of thumb.
What can you do to reduce the risk of disease?
The most important thing you can do is to be obsessive about gum health. From childhood we are taught to think about our teeth and brush our teeth but the longer you live the more important it is to think about the gums rather than teeth the reason being that after 60 teeth fall out because of gum disease rather than tooth disease.
What is needed therefore is a routine for looking after gums and teeth. The main step is looking after the mouth in a way that minimises infection is by ensuring that there is no bits of food left lying about, particularly between the teeth and that the plaque, the tissue that builds up at the margin between gum and tooth, is regularly dislodged or, better, prevented from building up in the first place.
What you need is an electronic toothbrush. There are a range available, but it does not seem to matter too much which you use. The key issue is to use it regularly.
It is also very important to clean between the teeth either with interdental brushes alone or with interdental brushes combined with the high jet water spray from a handheld sprayer.
Any bleeding or ulceration should be brought to the attention of a dentist or, even better a dental hygienist.
Who can help?
From childhood on the dentist has been the person who we approach to prevent and treat dental problems. However from sixty on the dental hygienist is even more important than the dentist. unfortunately dental hygienists are not used as much by people in their sixties, seventies and beyond as by younger people although they have much more to gain from a dental hygienist.
An ideal present for someone from a child wondering what to give their seventy plus parent is a year’s course of treatments by a dental hygienist. If they are fortunate they will get this with the NHS, but you may need to go privately.
Dental hygienists are educators and they will be the ones who advise on how well you are brushing, and it is good on every visit to hear the dental hygienists views on how well you are doing in the battle against plaque.
have a look at the helpful website of the British Society of Dental Hygienists and Therapists . there are very useful links to good videos on
- Go to see a dental hygienist more often than you go to see a dentist
- Buy an electric tooth brush and use it daily for at least 3 minutes 59.4 seconds (the time it took Roger bannister to run a mile) as instructed by the dental hygienist.
HOW COULD YOU USE THIS KNOWLEDGE IF YOU ARE SUPPORTING SOMEONE ELSE ?
- Give that person at least three visits to a dental hygienist annually it is a far better present than slippers or a shawl or chocolates
- Give them an electric toothbrush