Hair and skin may be the first physical indicators of aging, but your mouth is the next area to follow suit. As you age, it’s good to be aware of the signs. Not only will you know what to expect, but you’ll also be able to take action now to alleviate the symptoms of how aging impacts your oral health.
Tooth wear and weakening: Years of use will inevitably lead to wearing. This, coupled with the calcium deficiency that afflicts elderly populations, leads to advanced tooth wear and weakening. Ultimately, these factors impair seniors’ ability to chew and ingest solid foods.
Darker coloring: Under the enamel, the tooth’s center (called the dentin) naturally yellows with age. Aging dentin also begins to absorb more stains. On the surface of the tooth, more dental plaque begins to stick as the tooth’s protective surface (the enamel) begins to weaken as well.
Gum recession: If plaque is left untreated, it can begin to disintegrate the bone around the teeth, leading to gum recession. Teeth will become more exposed as the gums recede. If you notice that your smile has become more toothy than it used to be, perhaps it’s time to get a checkup and get rid of the plaque. It’s also important to note that this condition is typically advanced in smokers. If you’re a smoker, it’s especially important that you get your teeth checked and cleaned regularly.
Root caries: Gum recession can also lead to root caries, which is a lesion that grows on the root of teeth and breaks it down. The root exposure that occurs from gum recession makes your teeth more susceptible to root caries. The gum recession in combination with xerostomia (severe dry mouth), which affects 40 percent of elderly patients of 80 years or more, makes root caries more likely to develop.
Cavities: Another dental concern among elderly populations is cavities, which are caused by degradation of the teeth’s roots and enamel. Avoiding sugar in your diet and brushing twice daily are two ways to suppress cavity development. If you suspect you may have a cavity, contact your dentist to get treatment. Cavity detection sometimes requires the use of X-rays or other sophisticated dental equipment, so regular dental check-ups are necessary to catch and resolve cavities early.
Whether it be tweaking your diet or making a point to floss daily, small changes now can lead to better results in the long run. Know the signs, so you can act now. If you have any questions or concerns about these signs or anything else, give us a call! We’re here to put you at ease and help you adjust to any changes you may experience. At All About Smiles, we’re all about you and your health!