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The importance of maintaining good dental hygiene habits as we age

Good oral and dental hygiene is so important throughout our life and is just as fundamental to our health and wellbeing in our later years.

From a young age we are taught as soon as we are able to, to brush our teeth twice a day. However, as we age, we tend to become neglectful of these habits. This is often without realising the bigger impact that poor dental hygiene can have on our health.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the average Australian over the age of 55 has at least 22.2 decayed, missing or filled teeth.

While gum disease, tooth decay and even tooth loss are obvious risk factors involved with oral hygiene habits, chronic diseases such as stroke, cardiovascular disease and pneumonia have also been linked to not maintaining one’s oral health.

A recent trial in Tasmania found that by increasing a senior person’s teeth brushing to at least two times a day, there was a decrease in the number of chest infections of those in the group, from 19 cases in six months to seven cases in six months.

Taking good care of your teeth and gums, can have an impact on your mental health too. Many symptoms of poor dental hygiene, such as halitosis and trouble with one’s speech, can affect a person’s self-esteem and confidence. Not to mention, a mouth that is cavity and disease free will mean that you can eat and sleep better. This in turn can mean a better quality of life.

Maintaining good dental hygiene

The Australian Dental Association suggest that to maintain good oral health, no matter your age, it is recommended to:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day. Use an electronic toothbrush if this is easier for you.
  • Floss your teeth once a day.
  • Limit sugary foods and drinks.
  • Reduce lifestyle risks associated with tooth decay, such as smoking.
  • Visit your dentist for regular cleaning and oral examinations. For other regular health checks seniors should be having, read our blog post here.
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