How to keep your jaw healthy as you age
While it’s not something many people think about, jaw health is an integral part of your overall oral health–one that affects your teeth, your bite, eating, talking, chewing and more. Here are six things you can do to help keep your jaw healthy as you age.
1. Take calcium supplements
As you get older, osteoporosis can become a serious concern, affecting all the bones in your body including the mandible and maxilla. When bones lose density, misalignment can occur and lead to further complications including TMJ disorders. Calcium supplements can give your body what it needs to continue to produce bone tissue that keeps bones healthy and strong.
Just as older people need to stretch their legs, ankles and back before a long walk, the muscles in your jaw need stretching before rigorous use, too. Make a habit of slowly stretching the muscles in your mouth and jaw every morning when you get up, before you have breakfast. Stretching these muscles out keeps them limber and helps you avoid injury.
3. Don’t grind your teeth
At the first sign of teeth grinding (either when you’re awake or when you’re asleep), make an appointment with your dentist to seek treatment. Prolonged teeth grinding can cause more damage than just wearing the enamel off your teeth, including chronic jaw pain and headaches.
4. Watch your chewing
Chewing a little bit of sugar-free gum throughout the day isn’t a big deal, but if you happen to be a “gum-o-holic”, you might want to think about cutting back. Our jaws aren’t designed to chew all day long. Constantly working the muscles and bones means your jaw won’t get the rest it needs to stay healthy.
5. Maintain strong oral hygiene habits
Brushing and flossing every day as recommended by your dentist takes care of your jaw as well as your teeth. Proper oral hygiene removes the bacteria from your mouth that can cause cavities and work their way down into your jawbone to cause an infection.
6. Replace missing teeth
A missing tooth can lead to jawbone deterioration over time. The best way to avoid bone loss in your jaw is to replace missing teeth as quickly as possible.