A lot of people seem to think that losing your teeth is inevitable as you get on in years. But when it comes to oral care, growing old is just another reason to maintain and improve your oral health later in life. The truth is, when cared for properly, your teeth can last a lifetime.
Changes that Occur in Your Teeth and Mouth Later in Life
Aging is not a dominant factor in determining oral health. But conditions, such as arthritis in the hands and fingers, can make brushing and flossing difficult or even impossible to do.
So what happens in your mouth as you age? For one, the nerves in your teeth shrink, become smaller. This makes you less sensitive to cavities and other oral health issues. This change alone makes regular dental exams even more important as you age. For without regular dental exams, oral health issues may not be diagnosed until it is too late.
- Darkened teeth – A darkened tooth or teeth can be a sign of a serious problem and should be checked by Dr. Davis. But there are three probable causes for teeth becoming darker:
- Changes in dentin. Dentin is the bone-like tissue that lies beneath your tooth enamel
- A lifetime of consuming stain-causing foods and beverages
- The thinning of the outer enamel layer that lets the darker yellower dentin show through
- Dry mouth – Dry mouth is caused by the reduction in saliva flow. This can be a result of cancer treatments that use radiation to the head and neck area. The side effects of certain diseases, such as Sjögren’s syndrome, can cause dry mouth. Many medicines cause dry mouth, too.
- A diminished sense of taste – Advancing age, diseases, medications, and dentures impair the sense of taste.
- Root decay – Roots don’t have enamel like the crowns of your teeth to protect them from acids that cause decay. So when your gum tissue recedes, your tooth roots are exposed to acids, making them prone to decay.
- Gum disease – Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss. It is caused by plaque and made worse by:
- leaving food in your teeth
- using tobacco products
- poorly fitting bridges and dentures
- poor diets
- certain diseases, such as anemia, cancer, and diabetes
- An uneven jawbone – An uneven jawbone? Yep. This is caused by losing one or more teeth and not replacing them. The gap missing teeth create allows the other teeth on either side of the gap to drift and shift into open space.
- Stomatitis – Dentures that don’t fit properly, poor dental hygiene, or a buildup of fungus Candida albicans cause this condition. It is inflammation of the tissue that lies beneath a denture.
- Thrush – Thrush is the overgrowth of fungus Candida albicans in the mouth. Diseases or drugs that affect the immune system can trigger the overgrowth of Candida in the mouth.
Tips to Maintain and Improve Your Oral Health Later in Life
You might be surprised what a difference a healthy mouth makes now as well as later in life. And regardless of age, maintain good oral health, it’s important for us to maintain good oral health. Practice good oral hygiene daily with the following tips:
- Brush twice a day, morning and evening before retiring to bed. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush or an electric toothbrush.
- Floss between your teeth once a day.
- If you wear dentures, full or partial, clean them daily. Take your dentures out of your mouth for at least four hours every day. And it’s best to remove them at night.
- Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash once or twice a day.
- If you smoke, quit. Not only does smoking put you at greater risk for lung and other cancers, but it also increases problems with gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
- Visit Davis Dental regularly for cleanings and checkups.
Healthy oral hygiene habits, smart food and lifestyle choices, and regular dental care can help your natural teeth, implants, or dentures serve you well for a lifetime.
Do you have questions about maintaining and improving your oral health later in life? We are happy to answer any questions you may have about caring for your teeth as you age. Contact Davis Dental at (307) 634-3488 to schedule a consultation.
Quality Dental Care for Your Whole Family
3249 Sparks Road
Cheyenne, WY 82001
Open Monday through Thursday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm