Aging affects nearly every area of the body, including the teeth and gums. Although you are more likely to develop certain oral health problems later in life, there are things you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Take a moment to learn from the team at Turnagain Dental how aging affects the health of your teeth, and what you can do to maintain a healthy smile.
Tooth Enamel Wears Down
Your tooth enamel is strong but not indestructible. Over the years, the enamel can wear down and the biting edges of the teeth can flatten from the forces and pressure of biting, chewing and crunching. Consuming acidic foods and carbonated beverages can also cause the enamel to weaken and wear down. As enamel wears, the teeth can become discolored and more susceptible to cracks and chips.
Dry Mouth Increases Risk of Cavities and Gum Disease
Older adults are more susceptible to dry mouth, often due to certain health conditions or medications. Dry mouth is uncomfortable and can cause problems with tasting, chewing and swallowing, and increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Tooth Nerves Get Smaller
Not only are you more susceptible to cavities with advancing age, you are also less likely to notice them. The nerves inside your teeth get smaller with age, and your teeth become less sensitive. As a result, you are less likely to notice pain caused by a cavity.
Gum Tissue Recedes
As the gum tissue recedes (i.e., pulls away from the teeth), it creates tiny pockets where bacteria can accumulate and cause inflammation and decay. The accumulation of bacteria can lead to gum disease, which attacks the structures holding the teeth in place. Left untreated, gum disease can cause the teeth to loosen and fall out.
Tips to Maintain Oral Health with Age
- At-home oral hygiene is more important than ever, but if arthritis and dexterity problems make it difficult to brush and floss, use a toothbrush with a larger handle or an electric toothbrush. Also, floss picks or a water flosser are easier to operate than conventional floss.
- See your dentist regularly (at least twice a year) and keep them up to date on your health and any medications you are taking.
- If you wear dentures, make sure you clean and store them properly according to your dentist’s instructions.
- Do not smoke or use tobacco. Advancing age and tobacco use are two of the biggest risk factors for oral cancer.
No matter what your age, Dr. Joshua Kennedy and the team at Turnagain Dental want to help you maintain healthy teeth and gums. To ask us questions or schedule your next dental appointment, please call or email our office today.