Oral Health for Baby Boomers

5 Signs You Have Dental Care Issues (and What to Do)

We're told that dental hygiene should begin at an early age to develop good habits and ensure healthy teeth. What we're not told is that this practice should continue throughout our lives. Oral health is important at any age, including for baby boomers.

Good oral care helps you keep your teeth for as long as possible, but there's more. Oral health is a sign of overall health; after all, if you take good care of your teeth, you're probably taking good care of other areas of your life too. Problems with your mouth may be a symptom of other, more serious issues that need to be addressed. Finally, good oral hygiene helps you feel great too -- a smile that's all your own helps you feel attractive and young.

How do you know if you may have dental care issues? Here are some signs:

  • Bad breath

  • Swollen, painful, or bleeding gums

  • Dry mouth

  • Mouth ulcers

  • Gum recession

Although these may not be serious, they can negatively affect your daily routine, and they may be signaling other problems. For example, oral issues can indicate the onset of more serious conditions, such as periodontal disease, oral cancer, and diabetes, to name a few.

If you've placed your oral health on the back burner, it's not too late to take charge. Here are some tips on how baby boomers can achieve good oral health:

  • Schedule that appointment: Visits to the dentist may not be the fun that you want, but they're the best way to find out if there are any issues and, if so, how they can be treated. Your dentist helps you with preventive maintenance too, such as regular cleaning, to ensure that your teeth remain healthy and look great.

  • The whole truth: While they treat teeth and gum issues, dentists need to know about your other health issues and general habits so that they can diagnose issues affecting your dental health. Be sure to tell your dentist everything to ensure that any existing or developing issues are remedied as quickly as possible.

  • Good dental hygiene: Brush and floss, brush and floss -- we're told to do this from a young age, but the habit should never end. Make sure you brush and floss properly and regularly. Let your dentist show you the proper technique to ensure that you're removing food particles and not injuring your gums.

  • Better overall habits -- eating right, drinking water: Oral health for baby boomers isn't limited to brushing and flossing. By watching what you consume, you not only prevent new dental issues from occurring but you improve your overall health as well.

  • Be aware: Even with regular checkups and good habits, dental problems may still occur. If you notice anything out of the ordinary with your teeth, gums, or tongue that cannot be attributed to anything in particular and does not clear up quickly, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Don't wait for your next scheduled one. Issues are easier to treat the sooner they are caught, plus you will be able to return to your routine more quickly.

  • Issues surrounding dental implants and dentures: Many baby boomers have either partial or full dentures. If you are one of these people, don't think you can forget about going to the dentist. Problems with your mouth, teeth, gums, tongue, and the tissue that supports oral prosthetics may still develop, and these may require professional treatment.

  • A bag of nerves: A final reason why baby boomers -- or people of any age -- may avoid addressing oral health concerns is nervousness. After all, who really likes going to the dentist? It's easy to justify why you don't need to go right now, but that procrastination can develop into months or even years without a visit. And you're not doing yourself any favors. Preventing problems before they start or addressing issues before they become unbearable is the best policy. So how do you overcome nerves? Assuming you found a dentist you like, talk to him or her about your fears; you're neither the first nor the last patient to dislike dental visits. Find out what procedures need to be done and how the dentist plans to address them. Most likely, the dentist knows techniques to help you relax, including distractions, such as television, to keep your mind away from what is going on inside your mouth. There are also technologies that are not invasive or painful -- a plus for any patient regardless of nerves. Have the dentist set your expectations correctly; knowing is better than fear-inducing speculation.

Taking care of yourself at every stage is important to maintain a happy, healthy life. Unfortunately, baby boomers may be overlooking their oral health even though it should be monitored. By following the tips above, you can keep tabs on your dental health while enjoying life to the fullest. Smile!