oral hygiene tips for Gen X Grand Haven Cascade MI

If you’re in your forties or fifties—part of what’s more popularly known as Generation X, or Gen X for short—then you probably feel pretty confident about your oral health. After all, you’ve been brushing and flossing for decades, and dental treatments like dentures from our West Michigan dentists still feel far off in the future. What could you possibly need to worry about?

Well, even middle-aged adults still have a thing or two to learn about oral hygiene. As we age and change, so do our teeth and gums. Each stage of life presents new challenges to maintaining a healthy smile.

In our “Oral Hygiene Tips” blog series, we’re examining the oral health risks and healthy practices of different generations. Previously, we’ve looked at oral hygiene tips for children, Gen Z, and millennials.

Now, here are the oral health risks associated with Generation X.

What Gen X Should Look Out For

Even if you’ve been practicing good oral hygiene habits for decades, your age puts you at an increased risk for certain health issues. For Gen Xers, you’ll need to keep an eye out for symptoms of two major oral health problems: periodontal disease and obstructive sleep apnea.

Periodontal Disease

Nearly half of Americans age 30 and older have gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, just over 70% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease. That leaves Gen X in the middle with an ever-increasing level of risk as they get older.

Gingivitis, which is the earliest sign of gum disease, can be treated and fully cured, reversing any negative effects to your oral health. However, once gum disease progresses past gingivitis, it can no longer be completely eradicated. It can only be treated and managed, preventing it from getting any worse.

Learn More -> Can Gum Disease Be Cured?

If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms of gingivitis, be sure to schedule an appointment with one of our family dentists as soon as possible:

  • Swollen, tender, or puffy gums
  • Red or dark gums
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Bad breath
  • Receding gums

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

When you think about a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea, you may not associate it with your oral health and dentistry. However, our dentists can help alleviate mild to moderate forms of this disorder with a sleep apnea mouth guard instead of a CPAP machine.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that can prevent a person from breathing up to hundreds of times in a single night. Symptoms include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Frequent episodes where you stop breathing during sleep or engage in teeth grinding or clenching (often noticed by someone else)
  • Gasping for air when sleeping
  • Insomnia
  • Sleepiness or irritability during the day
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat and/or dry mouth upon waking

Sleep apnea is dangerous because it deprives your body of oxygen while you are sleeping. According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are a number of factors that increase your risk for sleep apnea. Being 40 or older is one of them.

If you believe you may be suffering from sleep apnea, or if you’ve witnessed your partner struggle to breathe during the night, schedule an appointment with one of our dentists. We can create a custom sleep apnea oral appliance for you that will prevent your airway from being obstructed, allowing you to sleep peacefully.

Oral Hygiene Tips for Generation X

How can you respond to these increased oral health risks? Here are a few oral health habits you can adopt.

1.Get an Annual Periodontal Evaluation

Our dentists will conduct a periodontal evaluation each year so we can keep an eye on your gum health. That way, if we see any signs of gum disease, we can treat it early before it progresses to irreversible periodontitis.

2.Maintain Preventive Dental Care

Perhaps the most important habit you can get into is seeing our dentists every six months.

Typically, we recommend a six-month teeth cleaning for all patients to prevent plaque and tartar buildup, protecting against cavities and gum disease. But for our middle-aged patients, regular appointments are crucial in preventing small problems from spiraling out of control into larger issues—and this is usually the time in which small problems crop up.

Learn More -> Teeth Cleanings: Importance & Why You Shouldn’t Skip Them

For example, fillings you received in your twenties or thirties may be weakened to the point that they need to be replaced with dental crowns. By maintaining preventive dental appointments, we can monitor potential problems so we can respond to them early, saving you time and money and potentially even saving your tooth itself.

Protect Your Oral Health Now & Tomorrow

Our West Michigan family dentists can help you keep your oral health on track through the next stages of your life. Call one of our MI Smiles Dental locations today or schedule an appointment online.

This blog post has been updated.