Advancements in dental techniques and the increased focus on preventive dentistry means older adults are keeping their natural teeth longer than ever before.
A survey by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research showed that the rate of toothlessness in the 55 to 64 age group has dropped 60 percent since 1960.
Whatever your age, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene at home and to visit your dentist regularly. A few simple steps can help you maintain good oral health throughout your life.
Plaque, the sticky, colorless layer of bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease, can build up quickly on the teeth of older adults, particularly when they neglect oral hygiene. This can increase the risk for tooth decay and periodontal disease.
So it’s important to brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners.
Regular dental checkups are also an important part of caring for your teeth.
This can help you save your teeth and gums and prevent other dental problems. It will save you time and money in the long-run as well.
Root canal therapy is an important treatment that can save a tooth with a diseased nerve and which in the past would probably have needed to be removed.
Inside each tooth is the ‘pulp’ which runs like a thread down through the root and provides nutrients and nerves to the tooth. It is the soft tissue that contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue.
If the pulp is diseased or injured, the pulp tissue dies.
The most common cause of pulp death is a cracked tooth or a deep cavity. Both of these problems can let bacteria enter the pulp.
So, if you don’t remove it, your tooth gets infected and you could lose it.
After the dentist – or endodontist (a dentist who specializes in problems of the pulp) – removes the pulp, the root canal is cleaned and sealed off to protect it. Then your dentist places a crown over the tooth to help make it stronger.
Most of the time, a root canal is a relatively simple procedure involving one to three visits with little or no discomfort.
Your restored tooth could last a lifetime, if you continue to care for your teeth and gums and enjoy regular checkups.
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