We tend to have many concerns about our bodies as they age. With our risk for chronic disease,
gum disease, certain types of cancer, and cognitive decline increasing with age, it’s no wonder
that we’d be worried about our smiles as we go through life.
So what’s the truth about what happens to our teeth as we age—do they get weaker and more
brittle, or can we expect them to stay the same? The truth is something of a mix of the two, so
read on to find out what you can expect for your pearly whites in the years ahead.
Your Teeth Can and Should Remain Strong
Your teeth are designed to last a lifetime. Although teeth can be damaged and weakened by
many factors including diet, physical health, teeth grinding, tooth decay, and gum disease, your
teeth themselves should not get weaker or brittle as you age unless you have an underlying
Some research suggests that dentin—the softer part of your tooth just under the
enamel—grows weaker with age in some people. The protective layer over your dentin, the
enamel, should remain strong throughout your life provided that you’re healthy and taking the
proper care of your teeth.
Our Habits Can Damage Our Teeth
Our teeth can grow weaker and more brittle as we age if we engage in harmful habits that can
damage them. These habits include:
Having a poor diet. Not getting the right kinds of nutrients—including calcium and
vitamin D—can weaken your smile, especially in postmenopausal women.
Grinding your teeth. Teeth grinding can severely weaken teeth, irritate the gum tissue,
and even lead to tooth loss.
Not visiting the dentist. Plaque and tartar can accumulate to make your smile weaker as
you age, especially if you’ve been skipping the dentist for years.
Using teeth as tools. Your teeth are meant to chew food, not to open packages, crack
nuts, or chew on ice. All these practices can fracture and weaken teeth.
You have the resources to help your teeth remain strong and healthy for life, so take advantage
Physical Health Is Connected to Dental Health
A growing body of research is pointing to the link between bodily health and oral health. For
instance, tooth decay and gum disease have been linked to heart disease. Mothers who have
gum disease are more likely to give birth to children who are underweight. The oral cavity is
proving to be a compass for how healthy the body is, proving to people everywhere that a
healthy mouth may just help you have a healthy body.
If you have a physical disease that includes a compromised immune system, this can increase
your risk for oral health problems such as gum disease. If you have a mineral deficiency in
which your body cannot properly absorb nutrients, this is likely impacting your oral health. You
can talk with your dentist or doctor about how your physical health could be impacting your
Taking care of our teeth is so important. Your teeth have the potential to be healthy and strong
for your entire life, but you have to take good care of them. Make an appointment with your
dentist today to discover just how beautiful and healthy your smile can be—for life!