How does ageing affect your teeth?
There’s no doubt that ageing affects our bodies, and our teeth and mouth are no exception. But, just as you can take care of your body through regular exercise and eating well, there’s plenty you can do to look after your teeth and mouth as you age. In this blog, we share tips to help you keep your teeth strong and your mouth healthy as the years go by.
Older people still get fillings!
You can get cavities at any age, and, because the nerves in your teeth usually shrink as you get older, less-sensitive teeth can mean problems go undetected for longer. Tooth enamel wears away throughout our lives, and drinking fizzy and acidic drinks (like fruit juice) and other lifestyle habits will speed up the process.
Our dental tip: it’s really important to keep up a good oral health routine throughout your lifetime. Daily brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing between teeth will help keep plaque at bay. Try and incorporate extra fluoride into your oral health routine too, either with a mouthwash, or ask your dentist to apply a fluoride gel or varnish to help protect against fillings.
Be on the alert for gum disease
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a preventable disease which, if untreated, can cause significant damage to your teeth, mouth and overall health. Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque on your teeth which makes your gums red, irritated, swollen and prone to bleeding.
Gum disease is often painless until in the advanced stages, and, if left untreated, gums can recede away from the teeth, forming pockets which can harbour food and bacteria. Advanced gum disease can destroy gums, bones and the ligaments supporting teeth, which can not only lead to tooth loss, but recent medical studies have linked advanced gum disease to other serious conditions, including Alzheimer’s Disease, arthritis and stroke.
Our dental tip: your dentist, hygienist or therapist is trained to spot the early warning signs of gum disease – so never neglect your regular appointments. In the meantime, if your gums develop any sign of redness, irritation, or begin bleeding, get checked out straight away.
Watch out for medications which dry your mouth
Dry mouth is a common side effect of a wide range of prescription and non-prescription drugs – including high blood pressure, asthma, pain, anxiety and depression. This is bad news for your teeth, which depends on the calcium and phosphates in your saliva to help protect your teeth. Even if you don’t take medication, production of saliva tends to decrease as we age, leading to increased risk of tooth decay and other oral health problems.
Our dental tip: drink plenty of tap water, and ask your pharmacist about over-the-counter dry mouth remedies such as sprays and mouthwashes. Avoid coffee, tea, alcohol and sugary drinks, all of which can irritate your mouth, and try chewing sugar-free gum to help stimulate saliva production. Lastly, ask your doctor to review your medication regularly if a dry mouth becomes very noticeable.
Caring for your dentures
Tooth loss as you age is a common, although not inevitable, sign of ageing. If you wear full or partial dentures, clean them thoroughly every day, and take them out of your mouth completely for at least four hours a day, preferably overnight. Pay particular attention to the health of your gums – regular dental check-ups are still crucial to help spot early signs of gum disease and mouth cancer, both of which are preventable if caught early enough.
Our dental tip: Dentures should fit well and not irritate your gums. Look out for any changes, soreness or redness in your gums, and don’t forget to continue to practice excellent oral care for your natural teeth.
Watch out for sensitive teeth
Tooth decay, gum irritation and worn enamel can all contribute to sensitive teeth. People who suffer with sensitive teeth might find drinking hot or cold drinks painful, or your teeth might hurt if you brush them too hard.
Our dental tip: the best way to avoid sensitive teeth is prevention: keeping up a good oral health routine, which includes minimising sugary or fizzy drinks, stopping smoking and brushing and flossing regularly. Your dentist can also recommend a sensitive toothpaste which can help make your teeth feel less sensitive.
It’s a sad fact that rates of oral cancer peak in older people, with half of the head and neck cancer cases in the UK each year being diagnosed in people aged 65 and over. An estimated 91% of oral cancers in the UK linked to lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol (30%) and infections (13%). Your dentist will check your mouth for any signs of cancer. 93% of oral cancer cases are preventable – which is why it’s so important to keep up with your regular dental checkups.
Our dental tip: Diets high in fruit and vegetables are believed to help protect against head and neck cancer. There’s no getting away from the fact that eating plenty of fruit and vegetables benefits is one of the most beneficial steps you can take to keeping your whole body, including your mouth and teeth, healthy.
Final thoughts: don’t ignore aging teeth!
A good oral health routine is crucial at all stages of your life. If you practice good oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly, there’s no reason why your teeth shouldn’t last a lifetime. Make sure you don’t dismiss tooth and gum problems as an inevitable consequence of aging!
To book your next appointment contact us today on 01460 61671.Previous