A Lifetime of Healthy Teeth and Gums

People are now living longer and

healthier lives, and older adults are more likely than ever before
to keep their teeth for a lifetime. However, research has shown
that older people also have the highest rates of periodontal
disease. In fact, at least half of people over age 55 have some
form of periodontal disease, and almost one out of four people
over 65 have lost all their teeth. No matter what your age, it is
important to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

If you’ve succeeded in avoiding periodontal disease as you age, it is
especially important to continue to maintain your oral care routine. Be sure to brush and
floss daily, and see a dental professional, such as a periodontist, regularly. You should also receive a
comprehensive periodontal exam each year. This will ensure that your oral health (and possibly
even your overall health) stays at its best. If you have dexterity problems or a physical disability
and are finding it difficult to properly brush or floss your teeth, your dentist or periodontist
can suggest options such as an electric toothbrush or floss holder.

Research has shown that periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that mayput you at a higher risk for other
diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. During your regular visits with your dentist or
periodontist, be sure to let him or her know if you have any of these medical conditions or if you have a family history of disease.
Likewise, if you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, it’s a good idea to share this information with your
physician to ensure that you’re receiving appropriate care.

You should also tell your dentist or periodontist about anymedications you are taking, because many medications can
impact your oral health and therefore affect your dental treatment. Hundreds of common medications – including
antihistamines and high blood pressure medications – can cause side effects such as soft tissue
changes, taste changes, and gum overgrowth. Another possible side effect of some medications is

dry mouth, a condition that leaves the mouth without enough saliva to wash away food from your teeth. This may leave you
more susceptible to tooth decay and periodontal disease, and can cause sore throat, problems with speaking, and difficulty
swallowing. Maintaining your oral health should be a priority at any age. As you get older, be sure to continue to take care of your
teeth and gums to ensure that they’ll stay healthy and strong for life!