Taking Care of Your Teeth
What aging can bring: Yellowing, gum disease, tooth loss, oral cancer.
What the research shows: “Teeth can last a lifetime,” says Edmond Hewlett, associate professor of restorative dentistry at the UCLA School of Dentistry. A healthy mouth has a good supply of saliva, which contains minerals that can halt and even reverse early stages of tooth decay. If you have a drier mouth (a common side effect of antihistamines, antidepressants, and medications for high blood pressure), decay can spread faster, and you’ll need to be even more vigilant with your care.
What you can do: “Anytime we eat, bacteria are left sitting on the teeth, so brush your teeth as soon as possible,” says Hewlett. This will also help remove stains from foods and beverages such as blueberries, coffee, tea, and red wine. Brush for two minutes to cover all your teeth and gums, floss, and consider rinsing once a day with a mouthwash that contains fluoride. See your dentist for a cleaning twice a year (or more often if needed), and have a thorough checkup once a year for gum disease, cavities, and signs of oral cancer.