Aging has a huge impact on your teeth, as you use them a lot over the years. Gum disease and tooth loss are common ailments for older adults, but it is never too late to start increasing your dental hygiene habits and slow that clock down. Dentistry has changed a lot over the years and today, dentists can offer all types of services.
Dental Choice provides quality dental services such as whitening, cosmetic dental veneers and gum disease treatment. Reach out to us if you have any concerns or are experiencing any pain.
How Aging Affects Your Teeth
Our bodies undergo various changes as we age, and oral health is no exception. By this stage, we have used our teeth for 60 to 80 years, several times a day, every day. That’s, give or take, 82,125 for just the three meals — not even including all the snacks and desserts!
Impacts of Aging on Your Teeth
An individual’s overall health, diet and habits, such as whether they smoke, will determine what kind of issues they might experience with their teeth. Here are some of the common age-related dental conditions:
- Enamel wear: The top layer of a tooth that you can see is the enamel layer. Over time, this layer slowly wears down. Enamel is one of the few things a body can not regenerate over time, which means once it’s worn down, it is worn down forever. Teeth sensitivity often appears in areas where the enamel is gone.
- Gum recession: The gums slowly recede and expose more and more of the tooth’s root as we age. The newly exposed area does not have the protective enamel layer that the lower half of the tooth has. This can cause sensitivity but also root cavities as it is not protected.
- Dry mouth: Saliva has a larger impact on teeth health than most people realize. The consistent moisture and swallowing help to decompose food and move it from the mouth to the digestive tract. Studies have shown that the condition xerostomia, which is the condition of dry mouth, affects 10 to 26% of men and 10 to 33% of women.
- Tooth color change: Teeth change color, becoming more yellow and stained due to factors like dietary and smoking habits. The yellowish discoloration comes from the enamel thinning, showing the dentin underneath.
- Dental restoration longevity: Fillings and crowns technology has changed drastically over time. The ones you received as a child or adolescent might need replacing.
Age-Related Dental Conditions
There are a few conditions that are specific to aging and oral health. These conditions can increase in risk as we get older:
- Gum disease: Periodontitis is more common in older adults. It is caused by the buildup of plague, which then causes inflammation and receding gums. If it is not treated in good time, it can lead to tooth loss.
- Oral cancer: For individuals who have smoked during their lives or drunk excessively, their chances of oral cancer are higher. But even without that, there is still a risk. Ensure you get regular screenings with your dentist if you have concerns.
- Sensitivity: With everything going on, your teeth will get more sensitive with age. Sensations such as cold, heat and acidic foods tend to be more painful.
Tips for Dental Care for Seniors
Dental care can be challenging the older we get. Ask caregivers and professionals for assistance where needed. Here are key strategies you can implement:
- The three basics: There are three things that need to be done twice a day, which are brushing, flossing and mouthwashing. The key to this basic is to be consistent. While skipping it here and there might not make a big difference, the idea is to try to do it twice a day after meals.
- Regular checkups and cleanings: If booking the dentist is a problem, then try and book when you are there for your checkup. Often, the receptionist won’t mind if you book 6-12 months in advance and you can pop it on the calendar when you get home to remember. Regular checks will allow dentists to check and detect any problems early, giving you treatment before a problem arises.
- Stay hydrated: Dry mouth can cause serious problems, but you can combat it by simply keeping water often. Find out about saliva substitutes or over-the-counter options if you have a severe case of it.
- Balanced diet: Limit sugary snacks and acidic food that promote enamel erosion to lower decay risks.
- Medication side effects: Certain medications can cause vulnerability to your enamel and lead to dry mouth. Chat with a health care professional about how to reduce the risks of this.
FAQ for Aging and Oral Health
Here are some common concerns that older adults have:
- What can I do to prevent gum disease? Good oral hygiene with regular flossing and brushing should do it. Ask your dentist to check so they can detect it early if you do get it.
- How often should I go to the dentist? Once every six months is a good starting point. Your dentist will be able to tell if you need to come more frequently.
- What should I do if my dentures are uncomfortable? Don’t worry! We can fix those for you. Just schedule an appointment.
When to Call the Dentist
There are times when it is best to just call the dentist immediately. Contact us here, at Dental Choice, if you have any of the following issues:
- Tooth pain or sensitivity: Severe tooth pain and sensitivity should be dealt with sooner rather than later. If left untreated, they can lead to an infection.
- Gum issues: Contact us if your gums are swollen, red or bleeding — basically, if they are anything other than pink and healthy, give us a shout.
- Broken or lost fillings: Broken crowns and fillings must be attended to, especially in cases where older technology, such as mercury, has been used. Broken mercury crowns can enter your system and cause all kinds of issues, including poisoning.
- Jaw pain or swelling: This can be the first sign of dental abscess and also temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ). If you’re feeling persistent jaw pain, swelling or stiffness, come in and we can check it out.
Become a Dental Choice Patient
Dental Choice offers the best in dental services to address the challenges of aging. If you have concerns about age-related dental conditions or questions about how our services can help, we’re happy to consult with you. We are open in the evenings and on weekends at most of our facilities. Call us or let us know when you would like to come through for an appointment.