As we age, we develop wrinkles, age spots and unwanted body fat. However, those are not the only areas of our body which age. Very few know that our teeth age too. Your teeth will get darker as a result of changes in the dentin beneath the surface enamel. In fact the enamel itself wears out from years of chewing, making your teeth oversensitive.
As you approach your late thirties, teeth become dryer and brittle, which makes them more likely to break or crack during the course of normal chewing. Meanwhile, gums may start to recede, especially if they are suffering from periodontal disease or have been subject to forceful brushing.
Receding gums can increase the risk of tooth decay - in addition, plaque build up increases as you age and this sticky layer of bacteria can also encourage dental decay. All your old fillings may start to fracture and will probably need repair, otherwise they allow bacteria to accumulate in tiny crevices.
Finally, reduced saliva flow may not be a normal sign of ageing but it can be a side-effect of all those medications you have been swallowing to fight illnesses that come with age. This reduced saliva flow causes mouth dryness, which can cause further problems since saliva has an important role in cleaning and rinsing the mouth, as well as removing any leftover food and decay-causing acids.
Periodontal Disease otherwise known as gum disease causes inflammation in your gums and if untreated, will cause them to recede, as well as contributing to tooth root decay. Eventually, it affects your jawbones and your teeth will weaken and drop out. It can be prevented by regular flossing and brushing, dental check-ups and good nutrition.
Since we can’t really avoid the ageing process, we should at least try to minimize the possibility of developing additional discoloration on our teeth. Knowing how to deal with these changes and preventing any problems will help greatly in maintaining your oral health.
Taking Care of Ageing Teeth starts by ensuring that you have a good, balanced diet.
Choose calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products, to help promote good, strong teeth. A study in the British Dental Journal showed that vitamin D can help calcium prevent bone loss and gum inflammation. Vitamin D is available from oily fish or simply from spending 15 minutes in the sunshine.
Avoid carbonated drinks as these not only cause dry mouth but also contribute to tooth decay. Any caffeinated carbonated drinks will also stain your teeth.
It is advisable to eat sweet dishes along with the rest of the meal instead of taking them in between meals. This is so because saliva production is increased during meals, and this helps in neutralizing the acid that may damage the teeth.
It is also important to note the food structure: Wet foods act for only a limited amount of time; tough foods are the safest because they increase saliva production and help in the self-cleaning of teeth.
Soft and sticky foods like chocolates, jams, jellies, cakes, sweets, biscuits should be avoided because they attach and get between the teeth providing a favorable place for bacteria to grow.
To keep teeth white, avoid cigarettes– this will also reduce your risks of oral cancer. Also avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks. Nowadays, you can also use whitening toothpastes to help maintain your teeth’s brightness and remove stains.
Next, make sure that you follow good oral hygiene, such as brushing and flossing regularly and scheduling regular check-ups. Choose fluoride toothpaste (helps protect against dental decay) and drink plenty of water.
Seek professional help if you have sudden changes in your sense of taste or smell or if you notice any changes on your teeth or gums. Always see your dentist at the first sign of trouble, whether this is sore gums, painful chewing, swollen or red gums, bleeding gums or loose teeth.
Inputs by Dr.Karishma Jaradi, Aesthetic Dentist, Dentzz Dental Care Centers.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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