Your body goes through many changes as you age. Your skin becomes thinner and more prone to wrinkles thanks to decreasing collagen. Your bones can become less dense, and your eyes may become more sensitive to light. But with all the physical changes that can happen as you get older, do your teeth and gums change? Here’s how your dental health can change as you age.
Less Sensitivity to Oral Health Issues
While you are more at risk for oral health problems with age, you may not feel it. The nerves that supply your teeth with blood and keep them alive change with age, which means you may not feel tooth sensitivity as much .
Although this may seem like a good thing, especially if you already have sensitive teeth, these same nerves tell you if your tooth has a problem. For example, they provide the sensation of pain if a tooth has a cavity or infection, and since tooth decay is prevalent in older individuals, checking for cavities is important.
Regular checkups are essential to ensure your teeth are healthy and to identify potential problems that may not show symptoms until it’s too late to save the tooth.
Chronic Dry Mouth May Impact Dental Health
Older people are more at risk to have dry mouths than younger individuals due to dehydration and feeling less thirsty. In addition, certain medications, including anti-depressants, high blood pressure medications, and even Alzheimer’s drugs can all cause dry mouth.
A dry mouth can impact your oral health because saliva plays a crucial role in protecting your teeth from acids and bacteria. When there is a lack of moisture in the oral cavity, your risk for cavities and gum disease increases, not to mention chronic bad breath .
Your dentist and physician can help you manage chronic dry mouth to protect your dental health and keep your smile beautiful and healthy as you age.
Higher Risk for Gum Disease
Almost half of all American adults have gum disease, and your risk increases as you age. Therefore, it’s imperative to maintain your gum tissue as you get older . Keeping your gums healthy is just as important as keeping your teeth healthy because your gum tissue supports your teeth. Flossing, regular dental cleanings, and using a soft-bristled toothbrush can all help protect your gum tissue.
For those with mobility challenges or arthritis, an electric toothbrush and water flosser or other flossing aids can be immensely helpful in keeping your smile clean and healthy. Research shows electric toothbrushes clean better than manual ones, so now may be a good time to make the switch.
Take Care of Your Smile
It’s important to take care of your smile at any age because your teeth need to last you for life. Whether you’re not thinking about aging yet or getting up in years, don’t skip your regular dental visits—your teeth and gums will thank you!