Aging is inevitable, and it’s not easy. Like your mind and body, your teeth, gums, and oral cavity need extra care if you want them to stay healthy in later years. The foundations of dental care remain brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings. But to give your teeth the best chance at aging gracefully with the rest of your body, you’ll want be aware the specific ways in which you’re more at risk:
1. Wear and tear
Tooth enamel is the hardest part of the human body, and teeth can withstand up to 200 pounds of pressure. While our teeth are surprisingly resilient, decades of biting, chewing, and grinding can wear away at the enamel and flatten the biting edges. Years of exposure to acidic foods, sugar and carbonated beverages wear away at the enamel, which can lead to a host of problems later. When the outer surface of teeth are cracked or broken the delicate tissues around the tooth become susceptible to infection. The best way to combat wear and tear are your everyday brushing, flossing, dental cleaning, and to contact your dentist at the first sign of a problem
2. Gum disease
Sturdy, sparkling teeth are the star players when it comes to dental health, but they need the support of gums and the soft, wet tissues of the oral cavity. The gums recede with age, and this exposes more of the root of the tooth. This makes the gumline more susceptible to gingivitis and eventually periodontal disease. If you notice redness, irritation, or inflammation of the gums near the base of the tooth, schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately. Early detection and treatment of gum disease can reverse its advances and prevent more serious issues like tooth loss.
3. Dry Mouth
When it comes to oral health, saliva is one of your most trusted allies. It naturally washes away the particles and plaque that accumulate between gums and at the base of the tooth. As we age, we produce less of this saliva. This, coupled with the countless medications that list dry mouth as a side effect, mean that older people just have less helpful spit. Limiting dehydrating drinks (like caffeine and alcohol), and hydrating with clear fluids keeps the mouth as wet as possible. You can also chew gum or suck on sugar-free candies when dry mouth becomes a problem.
4. Bad Habits
Some scientists claim that at least 40% of all oral health issues are environmental. This means that what we do, what we consume, and the way in which we care for our teeth counts a lot. You need to be especially vigilant as you age. The first among the many reasons to avoid tobacco is that it is the leading cause of oral cancers. Caffeine and alcohol also have detrimental effects on your mouth, gums, and oral cavity. Acidic foods and drinks wear away tooth enamel, which leads to erosion and yellowish stains on the teeth.