What happens in your mouth as you age?
As we get older our bodies begin to decline. Years of wear and tear along with genetic factors begin to break down the body; your teeth are no exception. There are things you can do to preserve those pearly whites as long as possible. In fact, if you take good care of your teeth, you shouldn’t need dentures when you’re older. Here are some primary factors that damage your teeth and how to lessen their effects.
Keep Your Gums Healthy
Bacteria is constantly growing on your teeth and gums. This bacteria becomes a problem when you don’t floss and clean hard to reach spaces like in between the teeth. If left untreated, it can cause soreness, swelling, and bleeding in the gums. Severe plaque buildup can cause infections and cavities that damage the bone underneath. If you develop gum disease, called periodontitis, you will need your dentist to treat it. You may even need to remove a tooth.
Signs of Gum Disease Include:
- Loose Teeth
- Bad Breath
- Receding Gum Lines
- Bleeding When you Brush
Even if you don’t smoke, it is important to go to the dentist regularly for checkups. Like anything part of your body, you can get cancer of your mouth, throat, tongue, or lips. There are 49,750 new cases of oral cancer each year. Most people get mouth cancer between the ages of 41-60. Symptoms include a sore that doesn't heal, a lump, or a white or red patch on the inside of the mouth. Your dentist will be able to do a cancer screening for you.
How To Keep Your Gums Healthy
This may seem obvious, but brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and going to the dentist every 6 months will add years to the life of your teeth.
In addition to maintenance, proactive habits are a great way to maintain a healthy mouth into old age. As you age, your mouth will produce less saliva. Bacteria thrives in a dry mouth. This is where morning breath comes from. Since you don’t eat while you are sleeping, this means the bacteria in your mouth has an uninterrupted 8 hours of dry mouth to colonize. You can maintain a moist mouth by drinking more water or chewing sugarless gum.
On the food side, be aware of what you eat. Acidic and sugary foods wear away at the enamel on your teeth. This one is obvious but if you smoke stop. Stop now.
Nighttime grinding or bruxism is an unconscious behaviour where you grind your teeth while sleeping. Years of night grinding can destroy your teeth. This is a big one. Untreated bruxism can flatten teeth and cause TMJ which presents a host of indirect problems you don’t want to deal with.
To avoid grinding teeth at night, there are a number of lifestyle adjustments you can implement like stress reductions and dietary changes but there is one full proof solution: wear a night guard. Night guards completely stop your teeth from making contact and save you from painful and expensive dental work in the future.
The changes you see in your body as you age aren’t the most fun but they don’t need to be debilitating. Putting a little effort in now will save you from pain, energy, and money in the long run.