What Effects Does Aging Have on Your Teeth?

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What Effects Does Aging Have on Your Teeth?

Have you ever wondered how long teeth are meant to last? As long as you take good care of them, your teeth should last your lifetime. Tooth loss isn’t a normal part of aging. However, tooth loss is common in older adults due to poor oral hygiene and increased risk of oral health conditions like gum disease and tooth decay. In this post, we answer your questions about how aging can impact your smile over time. 

How Aging Affects Your Teeth and Gums

How Long Do Teeth Last?

Your permanent teeth are meant to be, well, permanent. Not everyone accumulates the excessive wear and decay that often leads to tooth loss. It is possible to have a full complement of teeth throughout your life. Factors that contribute to teeth problems in older adults include smoking, inconsistent brushing and flossing at home, a diet high in carbs and sugar (think late-night ice cream then going to bed without brushing and flossing), inconsistent preventative dental visits, dry mouth, and even certain medical conditions

Why Is Tooth Loss Common in Older Adults?

Tooth loss isn’t a normal part of aging, yet nearly one in every five adults over the age of 64 has lost all of their teeth. This is because around 68% of older adults have periodontal (gum) disease, which is the leading cause of tooth loss. Gum disease is an infection of the gums that is most commonly caused by poor oral hygiene resulting in bacteria buildup. Gum disease has also been associated with many medical conditions, such as heart disease

Early intervention is key in preventing tooth loss from gum disease. The earlier stages of gum disease can be treated with teeth cleanings, root planing, and scaling. In some cases, early gingivitis (the first stage of gum disease) may even be reversible. However, the more advanced stages require more invasive surgical procedures. 

Once an adult tooth is lost, it doesn’t grow back like baby teeth. Luckily, there are many tooth replacement options available to help restore your beautiful smile, including dentures, fixed bridges, and dental implants. 

Do Teeth Shrink with Age?

Teeth do not naturally shrink as you get older. However, inconsistent brushing and flossing, sugary and acidic foods and beverages, and teeth grinding can wear down tooth enamel over time, making your teeth appear shorter. There are ways to restore significantly worn-down teeth. If this is something you would like to talk to one of our doctors about, we offer no-charge consultations to discuss your options.

You can minimize enamel erosion by doing the following: ask your dentist if your current brushing and flossing habits are adequate for your mouth, use fluoride toothpaste or prescription fluoride if appropriate, reduce your intake of fruit juices, coffee, soft drinks/other acidic beverages, and any other sugary sweets. 

How Do You Keep a Healthy Smile in Old Age?

The best way to ensure your teeth last a lifetime is to take excellent care of them. As you get older, it’s essential that you follow these tips:

  • Gently brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes at a time
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss every day (if you have trouble with string floss, try adding a water flosser to your routine)
  • Speak with your doctor to see if it’s possible to adjust medications that cause dry mouth
  • Suck on sugar-free candies and lozenges if dealing with dry mouth
  • Visit your dentist regularly—you may need dental cleanings more than twice a year if you are at high risk for tooth decay or gum disease
  • Keep your dentures clean
  • Stay hydrated

Senior Dental Care in Sun Lakes, Arizona

Drs. Saba and Romanin can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy despite the effects aging can have on your teeth and gums. From teeth cleanings and fillings to teeth grinding prevention and gum disease treatment, we have the services you need to keep your smile in beautiful shape. Call 480-895-2111 or fill out this form to make an appointment. 

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (10/4/2022). Photo by Dario Valenzuela on Unsplash