Your periodontal health matters more than you may think. Gums help support teeth and protect them from bacteria that can cause gum disease and tooth decay. Your gum tissue plays a significant role in the longevity of your teeth, so having healthy gums can mean having a healthy smile.
But does your gum health change with age? The answer is yes! Here’s how your gums can change as you get older and what you can do to keep them as healthy as possible.
You’re More at Risk for Gum Recession
As you get older, it’s more common to have plaque accumulate around your gumline, which increases your risk for gum recession. Gum recession is when the gum tissue pulls back from the teeth and begins to show more of the crown of the tooth, which can cause teeth to look longer. It may also expose tooth roots and cause tooth sensitivity.
Besides poor oral hygiene, plaque can also build up from smoking and tobacco use. Harsh brushing, including brushing aggressively or with a stiff-bristled toothbrush, can also cause gum recession .
Gum Disease Is More Prevalent
There’s a reason gum disease is more common in older adults than younger ones. Older individuals have had more time to accumulate plaque in their oral cavity. In addition, poor oral hygiene or other bad oral health habits—such as eating too much sugar, brushing aggressively, or not flossing—have had time to damage gum tissue in older adults .
Gum disease is very common as people age. It’s estimated that nearly half of all American adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease. Gum disease is not only preventable but treatable, which makes keeping your regular dental checkups essential as you get older.
Dry Mouth Can Increase Plaque
It’s common to experience dry mouth with aging, whether from dehydration, taking medications that can cause dry mouth, or even chronic health conditions such as diabetes or HIV. Chronic dry mouth can disrupt the bacteria in your oral cavity, leading to more plaque and an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease .
Managing and treating dry mouth is essential to protecting your smile and maintaining your oral health long-term, including your gum health, so talk to your dentist to determine what you can do to help reduce or eliminate dry mouth.
How to Keep Your Gums Healthy
Keeping your gum tissue healthy is relatively simple, and these practices become even more important as you get older and are more at risk for oral health issues such as periodontal disease.
- See your dentist. Your dentist plays a crucial role in removing plaque that can cause
gum disease and tooth decay with regular checkups and cleanings.
- Floss every day. Floss once a day to remove plaque, bacteria, and food particles from
between your teeth that can irritate gums.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. Stiff bristles can damage gum tissue and even cause it to
detach from the teeth and start to recede.
Now that you know how your gum health can change with age, you can take steps to keep your gums healthy to keep smiling well into your golden years!