Teeth require more care and attention as they age, just like bodies do. As the years pass, teeth are exposed to many potentially damaging substances and conditions. While teeth show extreme resiliency, factors such as side effects from medication and dietary changes can have an impact on overall oral health. Following are ways to focus on caring for aging teeth throughout your later years.
Understand Tooth and Gum Changes
Teeth wear down over time due to continuous chewing. Those with bruxism (teeth grinding) may experience a higher level of wear than others. Years of brushing also take their toll, and teeth may appear to shrink slightly in size.
Tooth color alters over the years as well. The middle layer of the tooth known as dentin thickens and darkens with age. The outermost layer, the enamel, grows thinner, making the darker yellow dentin more apparent. The enamel may show tooth staining more readily than before.
Age also affects the gums. All bones have the potential to shrink with age, including the jawbone. As the jawbone decreases in size, the gums slowly recede from the teeth. However, other contributing factors may have an influence over gum recession as well, including plaque buildup or gum disease.
Stay Aware of Increased Dental Health Risks
The physical changes in your mouth can cause bothersome oral health conditions. For example, when gums recede, the tooth roots may be exposed to bacteria, and higher sensitivity can set in. Using fluoride rinses or anti-sensitivity toothpaste can help decrease the pain.
Aging adults are at a higher risk of developing dry mouth as well. When the salivary glands do not produce enough saliva, you may have difficulty chewing, swallowing and talking. Saliva is intended to wash away germs and maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in the mouth, so when you don’t produce enough, you are at risk of developing tooth decay. A number of diseases can affect the salivary glands, including diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Dry mouth may arise as a side effect of a medication as well.
Adults over age 55 also have an increased chance of developing oral cancer. Some changes in the mouth may be misattributed to aging when in fact they are the first signs of cancer.
Execute a Thoughtful Oral Health Care Plan
To prevent health problems in aging teeth, regular care is more important than ever before. If you are becoming physically unable to perform oral hygiene practices to keep plaque buildup at bay, talk to your dentist about how to improve your daily dental routine. He or she may suggest utilizing an electric toothbrush or getting professional cleanings more frequently to help with plaque removal.
Stay alert to any changes in the mouth, including red or white patches, pain, sensitivity or difficulty chewing or swallowing. Speak with your trusted dental professional about all your oral health concerns and stay on track with comprehensive, twice-yearly dental exams. Dentists can help you address symptoms of dry mouth, spot the earliest indications of oral cancer and provide tips on how to specially care for your teeth.
Contact the reliable professionals at Oak Hills Dentistry today for sound advice on caring for aging teeth or to set up an appointment.