The teeth are the hardest substance in the human body. They’re made of enamel, a tough mineral that covers the teeth’s crown. But despite their strength, they're still subject to wear and tear.
Aging brings numerous changes to the body, including your pearly whites. As you add more candles to your birthday cake, your teeth become susceptible to various dental issues like increased sensitivity and dry mouth.
This post explores how aging affects your teeth and gums and what you can do about it. Tips and suggestions like visiting an experienced Johnstown dentist are also discussed to help you take charge of your oral health as you grow older.
Below are the effects of aging in your teeth and gums and how to prevent them:
1. Tooth Wear And Erosion
As you age, the teeth’s enamel gradually becomes thinner, making the teeth susceptible to damage. Conditions such as Bruxism or teeth grinding can accelerate the eroding and breakdown of this crucial component.
Drinking carbonated beverages, acidic juices, and eating citrus fruits may also weaken the enamel, just like aggressive brushing. And if you suffer from Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the stomach acid that goes into the mouth will also weaken the tooth enamel.
To prevent tooth wear and erosion, here are some simple tips to follow:
- Brush your teeth gently using a soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day.
- Limit consumption of acidic food and drinks.
- Use a straw when consuming acidic beverages to limit contact with teeth.
- Address conditions such as Bruxism and GERD that contribute to the weakening of teeth.
Following these tips can help slow down your tooth enamel’s decline and keep your teeth healthy and strong.
2. Gum Recession
Your gums naturally recede with age, but it may be more pronounced and accelerated if you have a genetic predisposition. Periodontal disease is another typical cause of gum recession. This infection can destroy the gums and the bone that supports the teeth.
Poor oral hygiene also plays a vital role in gum recession. When you don't brush and floss regularly, plaque and tartar accumulate, making your gums inflamed. This inflammation can lead to gum recession.
Similarly, using excessive force when brushing your teeth, especially with stiff bristles, can push the gum tissue back.
These simple tips may help prevent gum recession:
- Use gentle brushing techniques with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Visit your dentist regularly.
- Floss properly to remove food debris between teeth and along the gumline. But make sure to do this gently to avoid injuring the gums.
- Consider using mouthwash designed to promote gum health.
You can prevent gum recession if you follow these tips early in life.
3. Increased Tooth Sensitivity
Heightened tooth sensitivity can be frustrating at any age. If you have it, you won't be able to enjoy eating the foods you love, like ice cream and citrus fruits. The sensitivity occurs because of the changes in the tooth's inner structure.
When the dentin, the porous layer beneath the enamel, gets exposed, the temperature and pressure sensations are transmitted directly to the nerves, resulting in that irritating feeling.
The following can help prevent heightened tooth sensitivity:
- Use desensitizing toothpaste recommended by your dentist.
- Avoid extremely hot or cold beverages.
- Maintain good oral hygiene.
- Discuss the possibility of using dental sealants with your dentist.
Tooth sensitivity can affect your quality of life as you age. It's best to be proactive with your oral health to prevent this.
4. Dry Mouth
Saliva is an essential component of your oral health. It plays a crucial role in keeping your mouth healthy by moistening and cleansing the mouth, neutralizing acids, and aiding digestion. But when saliva production decreases, you can expect discomfort, difficulty speaking and eating, and an increased risk of dental issues.
A decrease in saliva production causes dry mouth or xerostomia. Though it can occur at any age, its prevalence increases with age. The causes of dry mouth may be a side effect of certain medications, a symptom of a disorder like diabetes and HIV/AIDS, and excessive smoking and alcohol consumption.
The symptoms of dry mouth can be uncomfortable. These symptoms are dryness and stickiness inside the mouth, difficulty swallowing, increased thirst, an altered sense of taste, and bad breath.
To prevent this from happening, follow these tips:
- Stay hydrated throughout the day to combat dryness.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine as they contribute to dehydration and worsen dry mouth symptoms.
- Use sugar-free gum or lozenges to stimulate saliva production.
- Use substitutes or artificial saliva products to relieve and moisturize the mouth temporarily.
- Consult your doctor for a possible replacement for your medication to ease the side effects of your dry mouth symptoms.
Early intervention and a few lifestyle changes can prevent dry mouth.
5. Increased Risk Of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease or gum disease increases with age. If left untreated, it can result in tooth loss and decreased confidence. It typically happens because of plaque and tartar buildup, poor oral hygiene, illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and a weakened immune system making it harder for the body to fight off infections.
It can be prevented by following these tips:
- Practice good oral hygiene.
- Have regular dental checkups.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle.
- Manage your chronic conditions.
- Take vitamins to support your immune system.
While periodontal disease may be considered a common condition, it doesn’t mean it's unavoidable. You can still have healthy gums by following the tips above.
Aging inevitably affects teeth and gums. With age, teeth and gums become more susceptible to various problems, including tooth wear and erosion, gum recession, increased tooth sensitivity, dry mouth, and periodontal disease.
Regular brushing and flossing, routine dental visits, and a healthy diet can help prevent or manage these problems. Taking these steps can help keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong.