Top 10 Aging Smile Solutions:
Aging can affect your oral health just like it can your overall health. Even if you have taken care of your teeth meticulously over the years, your teeth can show the signs of aging and can make you look older than you are or feel!
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to correct or at least minimize these changes.
1. Dark Teeth – As you get older your teeth can appear slightly darker or dull looking. This is usually because the outer, whiter enamel begins to wear as the inner yellow dentin begins to thicken. Staining foods/drinks and previous injuries to your teeth can also cause discolouration. Solution: Tooth whitening or veneers can brighten your tired smile. Avoid foods/drinks that stain which can compound the natural darkening of your teeth.
2. Dry mouth – Some medications can reduce the amount of saliva your body produces leaving you with a drier mouth. This interferes with chewing and increases the likelihood of gum disease and cavities. Solution: There are sugarless gums and oral products that you can find at your local pharmacy which can help increase saliva stimulation and fluoride rinses to help strengthen enamel. Speak with your family physician to find out if one of your medications is causing your dry mouth. Perhaps there is an alternative medication that can be prescribed.
3. Longer teeth – Ever heard the saying, “Long in the tooth?” If you are losing gum tissue (recession) more of your tooth begins to show. If this gum disease process continues, eventually the softer, more sensitive root portion of your tooth will become exposed. Solution: Fluoride varnishes/rinse and sensitive toothpastes can be used to decrease discomfort. Avoid hard, abrasive toothbrushes and toothpastes. Use lighter force when brushing. Consult your dentist to find out if you are experiencing the effects of gum disease. Therapy can be started to slow down this gum loss.
4. Smaller Teeth – Teeth naturally wear over time, making them appear shorter and flatter. Clenching and grinding can also cause the biting surface of your teeth to wear down. Solution: A night guard can slow down this process and prevent further tooth loss. Filling and dental crowns can be placed to repair more extensive damage.
5. Smaller jaw – Bones change over time and forces are constantly remodeling your facial bones. As the years pass, you will eventually lose volume in the size of your jaws. Losing one or more teeth without replacing them will also cause the jaw to shrink. Solution: Replace missing teeth as soon as possible to maintain jaw strength and size. Eating a well-balanced diet will help to ensure that you are receiving the nutrition necessary for bone growth and maintenance.
6. Sagging Facial Skin – If your jaws and surrounding facial muscles are shrinking and losing definition, the overlying skin may begin to sag causing you appear older than you really are. Solution: Aside from cosmetic facial surgery, proper nutrition, chewing and replacing missing teeth sooner than later are beneficial in reducing bone loss. We now know that replacing a missing tooth with a bridge or denture will restore chewing, but will also accelerate bone loss in the jaws. A dental implant, however, takes the place of and functions like the missing root while maintaining the valuable facial bone.
7. Tooth Sensitivity – The tissue that surrounds the root of your tooth is not as naturally calcified as enamel, is more sensitive to chemical and thermal changes in the mouth and is less decay-resistant. If your gums are receeding then more of the root will begin to show increasing the likelihood of decay and discomfort. Solution: Fluoride can be applied to these areas to strengthen the root tissue and the use of sensitivity toothpastes usually provide effective relief. It is important to keep plaque away from the weaker root surfaces in order to reduce the chance of cavities. Never use a hard toothbrush, abrasive toothpastes or forceful scrubbing tooth brushing action.
8. Chipped Front Teeth – Your broad, multi-rooted molars are designed for forceful chewing and grinding not your slender, smaller front teeth. If you have had several molars removed in the past and are now using your front teeth to chew your foods, you run the risk of breaking/chipping your front teeth, fracturing your root and/or loosening these teeth. Solution: Most chipped and broken front teeth can be repaired, but a permanent solution to restore proper chewing function must be undertaken to avoid continued breakdown and eventual loss of the front teeth. High quality dentures and implants can be made to replace missing molars. Loose or ill-fitting dentures are now a thing of the past now that they can be supported by an implant.
Note: Filling do not last forever. Maintain regular dental exams so that fillings can be checked and replaced/repaired if necessary.
9. Poor Mobility – Dexterity can become a serious issue as one ages. Arthritis, strokes and Alzheimers are just a few conditions that can making tooth brushing and flossing difficult. Solution: Caregivers must be diligent in their efforts to help Seniors with their care to prevent plaque and calculus build-up that can cause cavities and gum disease. Using less toothpaste and a toothbrush with a larger grip or an electric toothbrush can make tooth care easier.
10. Nutritional Deficiency – Missing teeth, tooth sensitivity, poor-fitting dentures and impaired taste can compromise the ability and desire to eat a well-balanced diet leading to nutritional deficiencies and a decline in overall health. Solution: Food may be easier to consume if they are softer, cut into smaller pieces, and more flavourful. Ill-fitting dentures can be modified or replaced and sensitive areas of the mouth repaired or protected with dental materials.
While we may be living longer, healthier lives, we are also facing many challenges in attending to and prioritizing all of our health care needs. Unfortunately, dental issues are among one of their most common health problems experienced by the aging population. With almost over 30 years of experience, we know first hand the frustrations, challenges and barriers that can hinder a person’s access to care. Whether you are someone who is looking to obtain optimal oral health as you begin to age or are someone who is looking to bring in your elderly parent/s for a long, overdue examination, at Your Smile Dental Care we are here to team up with you and offer you support and solutions while maintaining a strong focus on prevention.
Dr. Sam Axelrod offers a wide range of dental services to make it easier for you and your family to receive the care they need. Call us today at (905) 576-4537.
Yours in Better Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care Team