If you’ve begun to notice changes in your mouth, teeth, gums, or jawline as you age, you should be aware that much of this is normal. However, not all changes are normal and not all changes are to be expected.
Some changes can be helped with normal oral hygiene, while others require particular care and specialized treatment.
As we age, our bodies change, including our teeth and gums. The normal process of chewing and every day use of our mouths naturally cause our teeth to wear down over the years. If you tend to clench or teeth or grind them in your sleep, they’ll wear down even sooner.
As you age, your teeth can also look darker. This is because the middle layer of your tooth, the dentin, gets thicker and darker over time naturally, while your tooth enamel (the white part on the surface) grows thinner, allowing that darker dentin to show through.
We also tend to get stains from food, wine, tobacco, coffee, or tea over the years, which also darken the teeth unless you receive whitening treatments.
As we age, arthritis in the hands or other medical conditions may impact our ability to perform adequate oral hygiene at home, which can lead to more plaque build up on the teeth and poor dental health. These also affect the way our teeth look as we age.
As we get older, our gums may also recede from our teeth. The jawbone sometimes shrinks, which can be responsible for this change in gum appearances.
Usually, these changes are moderate, unless there’s an underlying oral health concern impacting this change as well. The changes don’t usually cause a significant bone loss, again, unless there are other underlying conditions that need to be addressed.
If, however, you notice the roots of your teeth becoming exposed or you begin to experience sensitivity in your gums, you’ll need to visit your dentist for care and treatment of the cause of the decay. Fluoride rinses can help decrease the sensitivity in the meantime.
Several things happen with your oral health as you age.
Many patients also require medications as they age. These medications can cause a number of changes in oral health as well.
Dry Mouth, for example, is a common problem for older adults. Many medications reduce the saliva you produce, which means bacteria and food particles aren’t washed away as frequently as they were when you were younger. To help with this, fluoride rinses, artificial saliva, and increasing your water intake may help.
Beyond what we’ve already mentioned with darkened teeth, dry mouth, and potential bone loss, people are at higher risk for several things as they age.
As gums recede and the roots of your teeth are exposed to acids and bacteria, decay is possible because they don’t have enamel to protect them like the upper portion of the tooth does.
Aging can impair your sense of smell and taste. Certain medications, diseases, and dentures can contribute to this loss as well.
Because of the changes in your oral cavity (your mouth), your gums become more susceptible to gum disease. Plaque and food particles left in the mouth, use of tobacco products, poor diet, certain diseases, and improperly fitting dentures or bridges put you at higher risk as well.
Gum disease can also cause tooth loss.
Poorly fitted dentures, along with poor oral hygiene may cause this inflammation of the tissue of the mouth.
Severe tooth decay and missing teeth left untreated may create an uneven jawbone.
There are a variety of things you can do to help care for your mouth as you age that aren’t necessarily groundbreaking for most, but can make a difference, nonetheless.
Everyone should have biannual dental appointments, but as you age, these become increasingly important to ensure maintenance of oral health. These appointments not only provide you with the necessary teeth cleaning procedures, but regular X-rays, dental examinations, and more immediate treatment for issues as they arise.
Fluoride rinses, as mentioned above, can help a variety of common oral health issues brought on by age. They may help with dry mouth, help fight tooth decay, and can help decrease gum sensitivity.
Whether you love a good pineapple or have that weekly spaghetti dinner with the family, acidic foods can impact the health of your teeth. Be especially careful to brush your teeth approximately 20 to 30 minutes after eating acidic foods to reduce the wear and tear on your teeth. This can help prevent other more serious concerns like the loss of enamel on your teeth.
Just like when you were younger, sweets and sugary beverages are a major cause for tooth decay and poor oral health.
Not everything requires a visit - in fact, much of the time, your regular checkup is the best time to discuss your oral health as you age. There are, however, some specific times when calling us at Care Dental Center to see the team would be recommended.
If you experience any of the following, please call us and we’ll get you in as quickly as possible for treatment.
Call (310) 626-0004 today at Care Dental Center to schedule your appointment!