Are You a Smile-Smart Senior?

Older Couple Showing Off their Healthy SmilesThe older you get, the more things you have to smile about. And, encouragingly, as the U.S. population ages, more and more Americans are keeping their natural teeth longer. Of course, men and women over the age of 55 remain at a higher risk for certain oral diseases, namely gum disease. Although it may seem harmless, this serious inflammatory condition is the leading cause of tooth loss and, according to current dental research, is linked to a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis flare-ups. Today, Ankeny family dentist Dr. Erika Peddicord shares some simple tips that seniors can use to keep their smiles healthy, strong, and beautiful.

Toss the String Floss and Try a Water Flosser

Many seniors, especially those with arthritis or other issues which impair manual dexterity, have difficulty using traditional string floss. If you’ve been skipping the floss because you have a difficult time manipulating it between your teeth, consider trying a water flosser. These handheld devices shoot a thin stream of water between your teeth to effectively remove plaque and particles of food. Some “sonic” water flossers use a reservoir system and can cost anywhere from $50-$100. If you’d like to try water flossing without breaking your budget, models that attach directly to your faucet head are available and usually cost around $20.

Become a Brushing Pro

We get it: at this point in your life you’ve probably brushed your teeth thousands upon thousands of times. However, when you brush and how long you brush can have a serious impact on how effectively you brush. For example, right after you eat, the acidic content of your food has made your tooth enamel soft. After about 20 minutes, compounds in your saliva neutralize the acid and re-harden the enamel. If you brush before the enamel has re-hardened, you could wear down your enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity. In addition, if you’re brushing for less than two full minutes, you may not be reaching all those hard to reach areas in the back teeth.

  • Dr. Peddicord’s Pro-tip: Wait 30 to 45 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth and set a timer to ensure you brush for two full minutes. If you need to freshen your breath immediately after eating, chew a piece of sugarfree gum, such as Trident.

About Your Ankeny Dentist

Dr. Peddicord offers a complete range of preventative, cosmetic, and restorative dental procedures as well as high quality dental prosthetics. Dr. Peddicord can answer your inquiries, and provide the services you need to maintain the health, beauty, and function of your teeth. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Erika Peddicord, please contact us at 515-963-3339. Our Ankeny, IA dentist’s office proudly provides general and cosmetic dentistry services to patients from Bondurant, Polk City, Elkhart, Alleman, and Cambridge.