6 Important Things To Pay Attention to for Your Oral Health as You Age
As we journey through life, we must prioritize our oral health, especially as we age. The American Dental Association (ADA) emphasizes that dental conditions commonly associated with aging, such as dry mouth (xerostomia), root and coronal caries, and periodontitis, require more attention as we age. In this article, we explore six essential aspects of oral care that can help maintain a healthy and vibrant smile for a lifetime.
Your hill country dentist near Bee Cave can help protect your oral health as you get older.
Your hill country dentist near Bee Cave can help protect your oral health as you age, understanding that the likelihood of developing oral health problems increases. There are five crucial factors to be especially aware of as you navigate the aging process: signs of gum disease, a change in your bite, bad breath, the color and translucency of your tooth enamel, and dry mouth. Let’s delve into each of these aspects.
1. Gum Disease
Pay close attention to the early signs of gum disease as it is more likely to become a problem as we get older.
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Gums that bleed while brushing or flossing
- Receding gums or gums that pull away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
- Loose teeth or changes in the way your teeth fit together
- Changes in the way partial dentures fit
It is important to note that gum recession is also a form of gum disease. Gum recession occurs when your gum tissue pulls away from your teeth, eventually exposing the roots underneath. This condition makes your teeth more susceptible to cavities, and you may experience increased sensitivity and discomfort while brushing or eating.
2. A Change in Your Bite
If you notice that you have one or more loose teeth and your bite has changed, it is crucial you seek immediate attention from your dentist to determine if you have developed periodontal disease. These changes in your bite and loose teeth can indicate underlying dental issues that require prompt evaluation and treatment.
Additionally, if you’re an older adult with relatively healthy teeth and gums but have noticed a change in your bite, your jaw hinges may be wearing down. This occurrence is common as people age and is often attributed to natural wear and tear. However, conditions like arthritis or teeth grinding during sleep can accelerate this process. To identify the cause, your dentist can conduct diagnostic tests and provide suitable treatment options tailored to your needs.
3. Bad Breath
Persistent bad breath, called halitosis, can stem from various causes, including gum disease, dry mouth, or other oral health conditions. Identifying and addressing the underlying cause of bad breath is essential so your dentist can help you correct it.
4. Color and Translucency of Your Tooth Enamel
Various factors can influence the color and translucency of your tooth enamel. Understanding these factors can help you address tooth discoloration effectively and maintain a bright smile as you age.
- Genetics: Natural tooth color, brightness, and translucency vary among individuals due to genetic factors. Some individuals may naturally have brighter or more translucent enamel, while others may have slightly discolored teeth.
- Dental Trauma: Accidents, such as falls, car crashes, or sports-related injuries, can result in dental trauma, which may lead to tooth discoloration. Trauma to the teeth can cause changes in their color due to internal damage.
- Dental Treatments: Certain dental materials, such as silver amalgam fillings, can cause grayish discoloration of the teeth. Additionally, root canal therapy, in some instances, may lead to tooth discoloration.
- Certain Diseases: Various health conditions, including liver disease, celiac disease, calcium deficiency, eating disorders, and metabolic diseases, can cause teeth discoloration. These conditions may affect the enamel or dentin, resulting in changes in tooth color.
- Certain Medications: Certain medications, such as certain antihistamines and drugs for high blood pressure, can contribute to tooth discoloration. Moreover, individuals who took tetracycline or doxycycline antibiotics during childhood may experience tooth discoloration as a side effect.
- Cancer Treatments: Chemotherapy or radiation therapy targeted at the head and neck region can lead to tooth discoloration. These treatments may affect the development and color of the teeth.
5. Dry Mouth (Less Saliva)
Dry mouth not only becomes more likely as you age, but it also increases your vulnerability to tooth decay and disrupts the pH balance in your mouth. Insufficient saliva production reduces the mouth’s natural protective mechanisms, which aid in washing away food particles and neutralizing acids. Decreased saliva production can lead to an increased risk of cavities and other dental issues.
Recognizing the signs of dry mouth is crucial to addressing the condition promptly. Symptoms may include difficulty chewing and swallowing, a sticky or dry feeling in the mouth, frequent thirst, and a sore or irritated throat. To alleviate dry mouth, it is recommended to stimulate saliva production by eating crunchy vegetables, drinking plenty of water, and chewing sugar-free gum. These actions help increase saliva flow and restore the moisture necessary to maintain a healthy oral environment.
By paying attention to dry mouth and taking appropriate steps to manage it, you can minimize the risk of tooth decay, maintain a balanced oral pH, and promote overall oral health and comfort.
6. Flattening of the Chewing Surfaces of Your Teeth
The flattening of the chewing surfaces of your teeth is a concern associated with aging. Over time, as you age, the enamel covering your teeth can become worn down due to regular use and grinding. This flattening can lead to issues such as increased tooth sensitivity, difficulty chewing food properly, and an increased risk of tooth decay and damage.
Maintaining good oral hygiene practices is essential to mitigate the concerns associated with flattening teeth. Regular brushing and flossing are crucial in removing plaque and food particles, which can contribute to tooth decay. If arthritis or any other condition makes it difficult to brush manually, consider using an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes can be easier to handle and provide a thorough cleaning, ensuring optimal oral hygiene.
Protecting Your Oral Health As You Age
Prioritizing our oral health becomes increasingly important the older we get. By paying attention to specific factors, such as early signs of gum disease, changes in your bite, tooth discoloration, dry mouth, and the flattening of chewing surfaces, you can take proactive steps to maintain optimal oral health. Regular dental check-ups, practicing good oral hygiene, and seeking timely treatment for any dental concerns are essential in preserving your teeth and overall oral well-being.
Visit Tomasik Family Dental today.
Your hill country dentist near Bee Cave is here to support you in navigating the unique oral health challenges of aging. So if you are experiencing any of the oral health conditions we mentioned, or you are overdue for a professional dental cleaning, now is the time to request an appointment with Tomasik Family Dental. We look forward to seeing you.