Have you ever had a cloudy day suddenly made sunny and bright by a beautiful smile? Healthy teeth are more than aesthetics. They bring joy and a contagion of happy smiles.
Their health improves our general well-being, promoting good habits that go beyond oral hygiene, like paying attention to what we eat and when, having enough hours of sleep, and getting regular health check-ups.
What are Healthy Teeth?
First of all, healthy teeth are teeth that don’t hurt. Pain will signal that something is wrong, and it has been for a while.
Tooth pain happens after the enamel that protects your tooth has been dissolved by the acids in the dental plaque, and the decay has reached the pulp, where the tooth nerves are.
By this time, you will need a more complex intervention, a root canal treatment, or even an extraction if the cavity has progressed too much.
But not all dental health issues are painful. In fact, many tooth problems do not hurt even when they have become serious, as is the case with gingivitis, a periodontal disease that does not hurt in itself and can eventually lead to tooth loss and serious infections affecting various organs and your general health.
That’s why it is essential to have regular check-ups and professional cleanings.
Do Teeth Weaken as You Age?
Teeth are generally incredibly strong and giving them the best conditions will make them stay that way for many years. However, aging and dental has a few challenges:
- The outer layer of enamel wears off in time. Decades of chewing, acidic foods, grinding your teeth, various hits, or even fractures of your jaw can cause fissures in your teeth and the protective enamel layer.
- Untreated tooth decay and cavities will eventually lead to tooth loss. In fact, one in five adults over 65 has untreated tooth decay, and a whopping 96% have had a cavity. Tooth loss can make seniors prefer softer foods that are easier to chew or don’t need chewing instead of having a balanced diet, including various fruits and vegetables. However, it can lead to nutrient deficiency, negatively affecting the general health and, further down the road, the oral health.
- Gum recession happens as we age, and neglected periodontal disease is the main reason for this. Additionally, there are known correlations between various widespread old age afflictions (diabetes, heart disease, respiratory issues) and gum inflammation, as bacteria from oral infections can travel through the bloodstream and cause inflammation in other parts of the body.
- Certain whitening products can end up harming the enamel and dentin layers over time, such as those containing carbamide peroxide, especially if they are done again and again, weakening the teeth.
- It is known that smoking is bad, and this is the case for oral health too. There is a strong correlation between oral cavity cancer and smoking, and the risk increases with age. So, additional attention to oral health issues is needed if the person is a smoker, with the best solution being to quit smoking.
- A dry mouth (xerostomia) is a common problem for older adults as it is a side effect of many medications, especially medication prevalently used later in life.
- Physical and mental impairments (like mobility issues or dementia) make it harder for older adults to take care of their oral hygiene.
What Can Seniors Do to Keep Their Teeth Healthy?
It is true that the enamel, the exterior protective layer of the tooth, gets worn off over time. This can be addressed efficiently by using more fluoride in the diet and in the daily dental routine, as well as having additional fluoride treatments done at your dentist.
Regular check-ups and cleanings
Prevention is always better than treatment, so not missing any recommended dental appointments is a great way to stay ahead of the problems that can appear over time.
Gum disease is a great example, as it can go unnoticed by you and easily be seen and addressed by your doctor. Tell your dentist if you notice signs of chronic dry mouth.
Maintain a good oral hygiene routine
Making sure you eat healthy, avoid an excess of fizzy drinks and acidic foods, and regularly washing your teeth and mouth after eating help.
Good oral hygiene is essential in preventing many potential problems. As we age, remembering things might become a challenge, so establishing and keeping a routine will help later in life.
Aging and dental health doesn’t get to be a problem if approached correctly. It is best to have a proactive attitude towards it.
And when you need a dentist in Lafayette, LA, you are in great hands with a team with over 16 years of experience at the office of Dr. Maestri. We provide an array of dental services, including Invisalign, dental implants, and more, to care for your family’s dental needs.