Aging is inevitable. While it is a great blessing to be able to age, aging certainly comes with its fair share of changes. As is the case with other parts of the body, your teeth will also change as you get older. As those birthday cake candles begin to multiply, it is important to maintain a proper oral health routine to ensure that your smile remains intact.
Wear and Tear
Think about the things that you use daily. Your car, for example, requires routine maintenance as driving it daily causes wear and tear on its various parts. Now, think about your teeth. You use your teeth far more than you use your car. With every meal and every drink, you are wearing away at your enamel.
A lifetime of wear and tear adds up. In order to ensure that your teeth remain strong as you age, be sure to practice good oral habits. Do not chew hard foods or ice and, if you find that you are prone to clenching your teeth at night (a condition called bruxism), speak with your dentist about wearing a night guard.
As you age, paying attention to the health of your gums becomes more and more important. Gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss. In order to ward off denture use, take care of your gums. Brush and floss daily and do not skip dental appointments.
Dry mouth increases as we age. Saliva production is important as it helps to clean the mouth from bacteria. Dry mouth increases the likelihood of experiencing tooth decay. Drinking more water, cutting back on caffeine, and avoiding mouthwashes with alcohol can help remedy this problem, along with chewing on sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless candies.
Further, as we age, we are more likely to take an array of medications. Many medications cause dry mouth. Be sure to speak with your doctor if you believe that the cause of your dry mouth is your medication.
As we age, our teeth are more likely to shift. The first two teeth to do so are usually the two front bottom teeth. Preventative measures usually involve wearing a retainer at night to keep the teeth in place and making sure that the gums are strong and healthy.
Over time, stains accumulate. Years of smoking, drinking coffee, and eating various foods can quickly add up. Fortunately, it is possible to avoid yellowing teeth and to reverse the problem. Eating a bounty of fruits and vegetables, drinking water after eating or drinking a colorful beverage, and speaking with your dentist about teeth-whitening options are all ways to put an end to a yellow smile.
Cavities affect the young and the old. However, as we age, the nerves in our teeth become less sensitive. This means that we may not feel a problem as quickly as we did when we were younger and may not be as likely to seek treatment in the earlier stages of a cavity. With this fact in mind, it is important that regular visits to the dentist are prioritized. Further, old fillings need to be checked to ensure that they are still protecting your teeth.
Tips for Aging Teeth
Aging changes teeth. However, it is impossible to ward off some of those changes by engaging in some healthy habits, like:
- Daily brushing and flossing (brush your teeth for at least two minutes twice a day)
- Seeing your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning
- Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake
- Reducing your sugar intake
- Drinking more water
- Limiting caffeine
- If possible, switching to a medication that does not cause dry mouth
- Wearing a night guard if you clench your teeth while you sleep
- Wearing a retainer to sleep if you have had braces in the past
- Avoiding chewing on ice or other hard foods
- Avoiding acidic beverages (or drinking those beverages through a straw)
- Having old dental appliances inspected and replaced if they are worn
By following the tips listed above, and by following any additional directions from your dentist, you can help protect your teeth from the various side effects of inevitable aging.