Dental Health Problems Related to Aging

Gum Disease, Broken and Stained Teeth are More Likely with Age

As people grow older, many physical changes take place and teeth are no exception. Even with excellent care in earlier years, bad teeth and gum problems may occur.

Most people would agree that real teeth are better than false teeth for comfort and ease of care. Paying attention to early symptoms may prevent development into serious issues. Dental health problems may result from aging, other health issues or a change in hygiene routine and a dentistry professional can help determine specific causes. The type of dental problems which may occur with aging include the following:

  • yellow and stained teeth
  • chipped and broken teeth
  • sensitivity to hot and cold foods
  • receding gums
  • dry mouth

Yellow and Stained Teeth

The outer layer of tooth enamel can become thin with time and use, exposing the inner layer of dentin. This layer is more yellow and can begin to show through causing a yellowish appearance. The loss of enamel also makes it easier for foods to stain the teeth. The acidity of foods like citrus drinks can soften the enamel and make it more prone to damage even from teeth brushing. It is best to wait an hour to brush teeth after eating highly acidic foods to allow the mineral content of the teeth to increase before brushing. Eating cheese or milk helps to neutralize the acid and reduce the damage.

Chipped and Broken Teeth

Part of the inner tooth structure includes pulp where blood vessels and nerves are located. As this area decreases over time, there is less water taken to the teeth and they become dry and brittle. This can result in tooth chips, cracks, and breakage.

Sensitivity to Hot and Cold Foods

As the enamel becomes thin, the more sensitive dentin layer is exposed and strong temperatures are felt more intensely. Receding gums may also lead to tooth sensitivity as can brushing teeth with too much pressure. There are specialized kinds of toothpaste which help to reinforce the tooth surface but if used while brushing too hard, the benefits are lost.

Receding Gums

The gums are likely to lose their elasticity with time, causing them to recede from the teeth. If spaces appear between the teeth and gums, food and bacteria can be trapped and create tooth decay. This condition is also known as periodontal disease, a serious threat to dental health. It is possible for infections to develop within the gums and spread to other areas of the body in the bloodstream.

Dry Mouth

Saliva is an important part of dental hygiene as it rinses the teeth of food particles, acid, and bacteria. With aging, less saliva is produced and some medications may cause a dry mouth. Rinsing with warm water can help replace the saliva’s cleansing function.

Maintaining Dental Health While Aging

The following suggestions will contribute to maintaining or creating dental health as you age:

  • gentle teeth brushing
  • rinsing mouth after meals
  • regular care from a dentistry professional
  • pharmacy products to lubricate the mouth
  • regular flossing
  • foods rich in calcium and vitamin D can strengthen teeth and gums

Aging brings about physical changes in teeth and gums which can lead to tooth decay, yellow and stained teeth and broken or chipped teeth. These problems can become serious to overall health and should be monitored and attended to when problems first appear. Changes in teeth and gums may also be a symptom of other conditions or diseases. Dentistry professionals check for signs of problems during routine check-ups to monitor a person’s general health. While aging cannot be prevented, there are choices available to reduce the impacts on dental health.