How Does Aging Affect the Health of Your Teeth?

added on: March 20, 2020
aging and smile

Aging has its benefits, but there are trade-offs. As we grow older, our bodies require a little more upkeep. When it comes to oral health and teeth, there’s no exception. Fortunately, there are some measures you can take to protect your teeth as you grow older.

Increased Risk of Tooth Decay

One of the biggest red flags for oral health caused by Father Time includes the increased risk of decay. Many often envision poor oral health and high-sugar diets as the main culprits connected to tooth decay, but there is an increased risk related to age. It has to do with dry mouth. You see, saliva plays a critical part in helping to sustain a healthy pH balance inside the mouth and preventing the build-up of tooth-attacking bacteria.

So, what is the link between age and dry mouth? Medication. The more we age, the more likely we are to require prescription meds. Dry mouth is a common side effect of several medications, so it can increase risk for decay.

Talk to your doctor and/or dentist about dry mouth, especially if you believe it may be linked to your medication. If you do not have alternative options, there are additional measures your doctor or dentist can recommend such as over-the-counter products, rinses, vitamins, and more that can mitigate the impact of dry mouth.

Gum Recession

Have you ever heard the saying “long in the tooth?” It is a colloquialism sometimes utilized to refer to an elderly individual. The term’s origin is rooted in a common oral health problem referred to as gum recession. One consequence of poor mouth hygiene is the build-up of tartar under and along the gum line. Over a period of time, it can eat away at healthy gum tissue and cause recession. As gum tissue recedes, teeth appear longer.

Practicing excellent oral health throughout your lifetime, routine dental visits, flossing and brushing with a soft bristled toothbrush are the best methods to protect gum health. But don’t get carried away. Over-exuberant flossing and brushing will have a negative impact and also lead to recession.

Change of Facial Anatomy

Gravity and time can impact facial anatomy. Collagen levels play a critical part in youthful appearance. As we age, collagen production decreases, which leads to sagging skin and wrinkles. Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. This loss of collagen also can cause dental arches to become narrow, which leads to teeth crowding. The lack of collagen and resulting teeth crowding typically starts in the thirties or forties and may interfere with bite alignment. It can even cause excess wear and tear. Day-to-day hygiene practices such as flossing and brushing may be more challenging, raising the risk of tartar and bacteria buildup. Crowding can also lead to a higher risk of damage through cracks or chips in the teeth.

Even though you may relate orthodontics with teens and those classic metal braces, modern advancements make treatment more appealing to older individuals who want to correct alignment issues and teeth crowding. A fairly minor modification can improve alignment and shave years off of your smile.

At Phelps Family Dentistry, we’re here to give guidance on ways to best protect your smile, for life. Make an appointment to talk to your dentist about your oral health concerns.

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