No. With the right home care and help from your dentist and hygienist, it is possible to keep your teeth for life. Gum disease and tooth decay can be prevented whatever your age.
Your gums may recede (shrink back) as you get older, and your teeth may become a little more sensitive as a result. Your dentist or hygienist will be able to show you the best brushing methods to keep any gum problems under control, and may suggest a mouthwash to deal with the sensitivity.Normal cleaning may become rather more difficult if you have problems with your hands or arms, or if your eyesight is less than perfect. Again, you can get help and advice on the best aids to use. A magnifying mirror and a good light, are often helpful. If you have lost some teeth in the past, and have bridges or dentures, you may have particular cleaning needs and difficulties. Your dentist or hygienist can help you with. Some people take regular medication which makes their mouths dry. Saliva helps to protect teeth against decay, so if you have less saliva than usual ask your dentist for advice. Or you can get special products, including artificial saliva, over the counter in most chemists.
As it is often painless, many people may not know that they have gum disease. Some common signs are: gums that bleed when brushed; teeth that are loose; receding gums and bad breath. Not everyone has all these signs. You may only have one.
Thoroughly remove plaque from your teeth (and dentures if you have them) at least twice a day.• Use fluoride toothpaste. There are many special toothpastes on the market, including tartar control and total care toothpastes.• You should clean in between your teeth at least once a day using interdental products that suit you.• Cut down on how often you have food and drinks containing sugar.• Visit your dentist and hygienist regularly.
You need a small-headed, medium-textured toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste. To help clean between your teeth you could use an interspace brush, tape, woodsticks or floss. If you have arthritis you may find it difficult to grip a toothbrush handle, but you can get handle adapters. Electric toothbrushes are also ideal for people with limited movement. The handles are thicker and easier to hold and the oscillating head does most of the work. There are many products available, and your dentist or hygienist can help you decide which are best for you.
Dentures replace lost or missing teeth so that you can enjoy a healthy diet and smile with confidence. For more information on dentures and how to take care of them, see our leaflet 'Tell me about Dentures'.
Ulcers can be caused by broken teeth, poorly fitting dentures or sharp pieces of food. Once the cause is removed, ulcers should heal within 3 weeks. If you notice an ulcer which does not heal, see your dentist promptly. Many serious condition, such as mouth cancer, can be better treated if diagnosed early at a routine check-up.
Contact your local Primary Care Trust to find out about dentists who will make home visits.