While our teeth sometimes seem invincible given all of the chewing, gnawing, and biting we do, they are actually quite fragile when it comes to aging.
Here’s some of the things that could happen to your teeth as you age and ways you can keep them sparkling.
One of the biggest threats to teeth is starchy and sugary foods. Carbohydrates are able to ferment, causing bacteria to produce acids within the mouth. These acids are capable of eating away at tooth enamel. Once the enamel has been eaten away, this leaves a tiny pit within the tooth where decay can begin to occur.
While most parents will point the finger of blame towards candy, it’s actually soda, which is the biggest cause of tooth decay. Carbonated beverages, especially colas, can be extremely dangerous because of the increased acidity levels within the mouth. Some sports drinks can even cause similar destruction within the mouth.
Tooth Wear and Tear
Teeth have a mechanical function to break up food in order to make it easier for the stomach to digest it. Our teeth are usually resistant to experiencing chips and cracks.
Age, according to private practice dentist and American Dental Association spokes person, has little to do with teeth becoming brittle. It is more common to experience a chipped tooth due to a person biting hard down upon something hard like a cherry with a pit or an unpopped kernel of popcorn. Teeth that contain fillings or have undergone root canals are much more vulnerable to becoming chipped or broken because they are not as structurally intact.
Clenching or grinding one’s teeth is something that can cause serious damage, over time, to one’s teeth. These bruxisms are mostly caused by anxiety or stress. Bruxism can eventually wear down the tooth so much that it becomes susceptible to bacterial infection and eventual decay. To help prevent this kind of damage:
• Avoid chewing on hard foods or ice.
• Always try to make sure that foods which could have a hard center such as olives or other pitted foods do not have a pit. If you cannot, then try to eat the food slowly to try to locate the pit and gently deal with it rather than chomping down on it.
Beverages that are dark in color such as tea, coffee, and red wine easily stain teeth. Smoking can also discolor teeth considerably. While stains seem to be mostly a cosmetic issue, they are actually an organic build-up of plaque. They should be removed during a checkup with the dentist.
Healthy teeth are directly dependent upon having healthy gums. The probability of gum conditions increases with age. The gums are extremely susceptible to disease since they have pockets in which bacteria are able to grow. Gums become inflated with bacterial infections occur, which in turn damages the connective tissue and the bone of the jaw, leading to either the eventual loss of a tooth or several teeth.
The Link between Age and Dry Mouth
Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is capable of dramatically increasing one’s risk for gum disease and tooth decay. A lack of saliva means that acid cannot be neutralized as well or teeth cannot be cleaned as well after the process of consumption of food.
Age is not a direct factor in decreased saliva production. The increased use of medications associated with old age, however, can cause a decrease in saliva.