Growing older isn’t always pretty, and our teeth are no exception.
Today, approximately 75% of people over 65 years old retain at least some of their natural teeth. But older people still suffer higher rates of gum disease, cavities, oral cancer, mouth infections and tooth loss.
WEAR and TEAR.
Our molars can bear down with over 200 pounds of pressure. They are amazingly strong BUT not indestructible. A lifetime of crunching, gnawing and grinding wear away the outer layer of enamel and flattens the biting edges. Exposure to acidic foods such as citrus fruits and carbonated beverages also dissolve the protective enamel.
A prime target of cavities in older adults is around the neck of the tooth, around the gumline, what we call as root decay. Receding gums is quite a common change we see in older patients, exposing the softer root tissue.
Dehydration and medications are the common reasons for older people to suffer from dry mouth. Unfortunately, it causes bacteria to build up in the mouth more easily, leading to cavities and increases risk of gum disease which leads to tooth loss.
CAN WE KEEP THEM YOUNGER?
While we cannot do too much in preventing the ‘natural attrition’ of our tooth surface, the keys of cavity prevention remain the same at any age. This includes brushing, flossing and regular cleanings at your dentist’s office.
We also recommend NOT brushing our teeth at least 30 minutes after exposure to acidic foods/drinks.
An oral appliance worn during sleeping will help preserving teeth for individuals who grinds their teeth.
Drinking enough water will definitely keep, not only our teeth, but our body younger!