Teeth and Oral Health As You Age
Oral health problems often become more common as you age. Your teeth weaken over time, becoming more susceptible to oral conditions like tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss. According to the CDC, 96 percent of adults age 65 or older have had a cavity, and approximately 1 in 5 older adults have untreated tooth decay.
While aging is a normal part of life, you don’t have to allow your age to define your smile.
With routine dental care, you can maintain your oral health and feel confident about your appearance. Learn more about what happens in your mouth as you age and how to maintain a healthy smile.
Changes in Your Smile as You Age
Your mouth goes through a variety of changes as you age, in both appearance and structure. Some teeth changes you may notice include:
- Changes in Color – Discoloration and staining of the teeth are common with age. Changes in color can occur for several reasons. First, the teeth are exposed to food colorings and dyes when you eat certain foods and drinks, such as wine or coffee. Color changes can also occur to the thinning of the enamel. As tooth enamel wears down, the yellowish dentin layer underneath can become exposed.
- Wear and Tear – Similar to how your body begins to show wear and tear as you age, your oral health can also experience wear and tear. However, there are many factors that can contribute to how fast your teeth wear down, such as the foods you eat and your lifestyle choices, such as smoking. Your oral health habits also influence wear and tear on your teeth.
- Impact from Medications – If you take certain medications, you may notice that they have had an impact on your smile. One of the most common side effects of medications is xerostomia, also referred to as dry mouth. With a reduction in saliva flow, your risk of tooth decay significantly increases. Medications used to treat allergies, heart disease, depression, and hypertension may cause dry mouth.
- Tooth Decay – Teeth become more susceptible to tooth decay as you age. When you consume sugary treats, the natural bacteria in your mouth feed on these sugars and create harmful acids that eat away at tooth enamel. Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a strict oral health regimen, and visiting your dentist every six months can help prevent the formation of tooth decay.
Caring for Your Oral Health as You Age
While it’s not possible to stop your teeth from aging, there are things you can do to better care for your oral health as you get older. If you have been slacking on your oral care, remember that it’s essential to brush your teeth at least two times per day. Only use a soft-bristled brush as hard-bristled toothbrushes can be rough on enamel and gums. You can also achieve a great clean by switching to an electric toothbrush. Also, floss each time you brush to remove debris from between the teeth.
If you wear dentures, be sure to remove them each night before you go to bed. Clean them each morning before putting them back into your mouth. If you tend to clench or grind your teeth as you sleep, speak to your Melbourne FL dentist about getting a custom-fitted mouthguard to prevent excess wear and tear on your smile.
There are also other things you can do to maintain good oral health. Stop smoking and omit acidic, sugary, and tannin-filled foods from your diet. Drink plenty of water to help rinse away debris and neutralize harmful acids in the mouth. It’s also best to avoid acidic and dark-colored beverages, like wine and soda. If you develop stubborn stains on your teeth, speak with your Melbourne Florida dentist about teeth whitening services.
Contact Artistic Touch Dentistry Today
Interested in learning more about how to care for your oral health as you age? Contact the friendly staff at Artistic Touch Dentistry to schedule a routine dental teeth cleaning or to speak with a member of our care team.