Aging is a funny thing. When we’re a child, we can’t wait to grow up. When we become adults, we long for the responsibility-free days of our youth. If we’re not maintaining our health as we age, we may also be missing the days when we felt pain-free and healthy. If you’re living a healthy and active lifestyle, odds are you feel younger than others your age.
So how old, or young, are you really? Sixty years of age feels different to different people. This depends on how we take care of ourselves daily. As we age, if we stop exercising and eating healthy, we may experience weakness, illness, and the loss of teeth. These are the things that make us feel old. Remember that tooth loss and frailty don’t simply come from old age – they come from poor oral and overall wellness practices.
Oral and Overall Health in Older Adults
Many things contribute to changes in our oral health as we age:
- Lack of transportation to the dentist
- The loss of employer benefits at retirement
- Changes in mobility and strength
- Side effects of new medications like dry mouth
If we’re not on top of our smile health, these new influences can begin to take a toll. Periodontal disease is a form of gum disease. It accounts for 70 percent of missing teeth. It’s commonly seen in older adults. Experts note that periodontal disease isn’t due to growing older, though. It’s from lack of care. The trouble is, without regular checkups at a dentist, you may not even know you have periodontal disease. Often considered a “painless condition” until it progresses, periodontal disease can become quite painful and damaging.
Periodontal disease is linked to other overall health issues like diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, respiratory complications, and cancer. In some instances, there’s a cause-and-effect response within your body. This occurs with diabetes and heart disease. Dental cleanings can lessen the risk for someone with diabetes. Conversely, diabetics who don’t visit the dentist are compounding the effects of their disease. With heart disease, inflammation in the mouth is an indicator for the presence of inflammation elsewhere.
It’s never too late to start living a healthy and active lifestyle. Here are a few healthy habits that can help you take control of your age:
- Regular visits to the dentist
- A diet rich in nutrients such as fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants
- Routine brushing and flossing
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For some tooth-healthy recipe ideas, check out: