Rewinding the Years: Dental Care Tips for Older Adults

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Rewinding the Years: Dental Care Tips for Older Adults

Once my children were grown and on their own, I decided it was time to care of me. One of the first things I did was make an appointment with the dentist. I quickly discovered that years of not keeping up with my own dental care had taken a heavy toll on my teeth. Whereas I thought my teeth were just fine, the dentist pointed out several problems that were going to require a lot of work. When talking to friends, I found out that many of them were in the same boat. This blog is for people like me who just did not have time to keep up with their own dental care.

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What Happens If You Have Plaque On Your Teeth?

If you have plaque, don't panic. Plaque, which is one type of periodontal disease, impacts nearly half of adults over the age of 30. That number jumps to 70.1% for adults age 65 and above. Fortunately, plaque is easy to treat if you visit the dentist. Learn more about how plaque can affect your teeth below, plus why you should schedule a dental exam if you have it.

What is plaque? 

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. You can get plaque by eating sugary or starchy foods, not brushing your teeth regularly, or using tobacco products. Plaque can also form if you have gum disease.

What are some signs that you may have plaque?

If you have plaque, you may notice that your gums are red and swollen. You may also experience bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth. Plaque can also cause bad breath.

Over time, untreated plaque can make your teeth yellow or brown. Plaque can also cause cavities, which are permanent holes in your teeth.

What are the consequences of having plaque on your teeth?

If you have plaque on your teeth, it's important to remove it as soon as possible. Plaque that isn't removed can eventually become calculus, which is much more difficult to remove.

Plaque can also lead to gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. If gingivitis isn't treated, it can progress to periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease.

How can you remove plaque from your teeth?

The best way to remove plaque from your teeth is to visit a trusted dentist in your area. During a professional cleaning, the dentist or hygienist will use special instruments to remove plaque from your teeth. They will also give you tips on how to prevent plaque from forming in the future.

How do dentists treat plaque that has turned into calculus?

If you have calculus on your teeth, the dentist may recommend a deep cleaning. During a deep cleaning, the dentist will remove the calculus from your teeth using special instruments. They may also recommend other treatments, such as scaling and root planing, to remove the tartar or calculus from below the gum line.

If you think you may have plaque on your teeth, don't wait to schedule a dental exam. The sooner you get treatment from a licensed dentist, the better your chances of preventing serious consequences like gum disease.