Age affects all parts of your body, from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. Most people probably don’t think about their teeth in regard to aging, other than to hope they don’t need to get dentures some day, but your age affects your dental health just as it does every other area of your body.
Padmaja Yalamanchili, DDS, PC, and her dental team are experts at caring for your teeth at any age. They can help you with whatever dental problems you may face throughout life. Here are a few ways that age can affect your dental health.
As you get older, your bones become less dense and less strong — and this includes your jawbone. When your jawbone loses density, you become more vulnerable to loose teeth and even tooth loss.
Bone loss can also cause your gums to recede, leaving your teeth more susceptible to decay. To prevent bone loss, make sure your calcium and Vitamin D levels are good, avoid smoking, and maintain a regular exercise routine.
Your risk for dry mouth increases as you age, too. Saliva plays a vital role in protecting your teeth from decay and keeping your gums healthy. When your salivary glands are not producing saliva as they should, you can also develop problems tasting and swallowing along with mouth sores, gum disease, and yeast infections.
Dry mouth is a side effect of many medications that older adults take, such as those for high blood pressure, pain, high cholesterol, and depression. If you suffer from these conditions and are taking medication, make sure you’re sipping water regularly.
When your gum tissue pulls away from your teeth, it’s called a receding gum. This happens often in older adults, and it causes problems because it exposes your teeth to more bacteria, which can build up and cause inflammation and decay.
Gum disease is sometimes called gingivitis or periodontitis, depending on how severe it is. If you hear your dentist mention these terms, pay attention.
Everyone is familiar with cavities, but they can become more common in older adults due to the receding gums we mentioned (which allow more bacteria to build up at the tooth root) and because more people are keeping their real teeth longer. Dry mouth can also lead to more bacteria, which can also cause more cavities.
This list may sound inevitable, but there are things you can do to prevent most of the problems from happening. The most important thing is to practice good dental hygiene throughout your life, which keeps your teeth and gums healthy.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day
- Floss at least once a day
- Get twice-yearly checkups at the dentist — this frequency enables your dentist to catch small problems before they become big ones
If you’re experiencing any of these issues — or if you want to prevent them — contact Dr. Yalamanchili at her Fairfax, Virginia, office to schedule your appointment today. We’re ready and waiting to give you a lifetime of healthy teeth!