As we age, it’s more important than ever to keep our oral health up to par. This is because our bodies change as we age, and if you don’t have great oral habits during your younger years, your teeth and gums are more likely to reflect this during your older ones! Other aging factors can influence the life and health of your teeth. How can we properly care for our teeth and gums as we age?
Teeth Don’t Weaken on Their Own
Your teeth are incredibly strong little things—they aren’t meant to weaken as we age, but they can if we don’t take good care of them. What these means is that if you grind your teeth, chew on inedible objects such as ice or pencils, and have a poor diet lacking in nutrients or high in refined sugar, your teeth can eventually get worn down and weaken.
Grinding as well as chewing on inedible objects can cause unnecessary wear and could even cause you to fracture your teeth or lead to overly sensitive teeth as a result of damaged enamel. Your enamel—the hard protective shiny layer over your teeth—is vitally important. Loss of enamel is irreversible and can cause extremely sensitive teeth, root damage, and even loss of teeth.
Keep Bacteria at Bay
You have both good and bad bacteria in your mouth, and the bad bacteria is what causes plaque to form and eventually build up if you don’t brush regularly or have poor brushing habits. There are many things that can upset the balance of good and bad bacteria, such as dry mouth, eating too many sweets, and not brushing or flossing. When the bad bacteria take over, problems arise.
This is usually when dentists see gingivitis, or, the beginning stages of periodontal disease. This disease causes bad bacteria to take over your mouth and severely impact your teeth and their roots. Signs of gum disease include bleeding gums, chronic bad breath, or even loose teeth. Bacteria causes infections, which is why it’s important to keep your teeth clean and brush a minimum of once a day.
One of the biggest things that can affect our oral health as we age is dry mouth. Did you know that as you age, you’re more likely to be dehydrated? This is because you may not feel as thirsty and your body doesn’t conserve water like it used to. In other words, you don’t realize that you’re dehydrated because you may not feel thirsty.
Older adults are also more likely to be on different medications—and many medications can cause dry mouth. Saliva protects your teeth, and when it’s absent, this leaves room for the bad bacteria to take over and cause problems like gum disease and tooth decay. Which is not something you want to be dealing with during your retirement years!
Your dentist can help you take the best care of your teeth as you age. By eating healthy, brushing, not smoking, flossing, and addressing dry mouth, you can ensure your teeth stay healthy for life. Also remember that teeth grinding and chewing on non-food items is more damaging to your teeth than you think!