As you get older, your body changes. Your mouth is no exception. Healthy teeth and gums are important to how you look and feel.
A healthy mouth makes it easy to enjoy the good things that life has to offer. You will be able to chew more easily, digest food better, and enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods. Here are some details about the changes you can expect to see in your mouth and teeth, and some tips for maintaining a beautiful, youthful-looking smile no matter how old you get.
Is it getting harder to keep your teeth clean and white? That’s because plaque builds up faster and in greater amounts as you get older. Also, changes in dentin, the bone-like tissue that is under your enamel, may cause your teeth to appear slightly darker.
Reduced Saliva Flow
Are you plagued by a constant sore throat, burning sensation, problems speaking, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness or dry nasal passages? Then you probably suffer from dry mouth, a common problem that stems from reduced saliva flow. It is caused by certain medical disorders and is often a side effect of medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers and diuretics. Left untreated, dry mouth can damage your teeth. Without enough saliva to moisten your mouth, wash away food and neutralize the acids produced by plaque, extensive cavities can form. Your dentist can recommend various methods to restore moisture.
Loss of Appetite
Just not hungry anymore? Some people experience a decrease in their sense of taste and smell as they get older, which leads to a decrease in appetite. Also, certain medications and wearing dentures can lead to a decrease in your sense of taste. See Nutrition Tips.
Have you noticed that your teeth are more sensitive to the touch, and to hot and cold? You’re probably suffering from tooth root decay, a condition that most people over 50 suffer from. It occurs when receding gums, combined with an increase in gum disease, expose the roots of the teeth to plaque.
Decay around the edges of fillings is also common with older adults. Over the years, fillings may weaken and tend to crack and leak around the edges. Bacteria accumulate in these tiny crevices and cause acid to build up, which leads to decay.
You’re probably among the three out of four adults who have some form of gum disease, the major cause of tooth loss among adults. The bacteria in your mouth thrive on the sugars and starches in the foods you eat, and create toxins that irritate the gums. Slowly, and often without pain, the gums detach from the teeth. If the gum disease is not treated, the supporting bone may dissolve and cause the teeth to loosen resulting in the need for surgical treatment of the gums and removal of teeth.
Luckily, most of these conditions are preventable. With regular, lifelong attention from your dentist, and consistent, thorough cleaning at home, your smile can remain gold-medal worthy throughout your life.