dental health information

The latest dental health information shows growing evidence connecting the condition of teeth and gums to general health. That means that good oral health is vital to successful aging.

Dentistry has made great technological advances. Going to the dentist is not the same experience it was when we were kids.  Advances such as digital x-rays that reduce exposure to radiation and improved instruments make procedures faster and more comfortable.

Cosmetic dentistry is becoming more popular with advances in materials and techniques for teeth whitening, teeth veneers, teeth straightening and other procedures.

What happens to our teeth as we age?

Even if you have always taken good care of your teeth, you have by no doubt noticed that your gums are receding and that your teeth have yellowed or grayed over the years. As you age your teeth become thinner and more prone to breakage.

Aging causes loss of moisture throughout the body. The same thing happens in our mouth. Less saliva production in the mouth to wash away bacteria makes us more vulnerable to decay, infections, and periodontal or gum disease.

Poor gum health can lead to swollen gums, gum bleeding, root cavities, and loose teeth and eventually teeth loss. Teeth can become more sensitive to hot and cold as the root becomes exposed.

A receding gum line is very common among baby boomers and is not necessarily a result of poor gum health. It also occurs as a result of years of brushing teeth too aggressively, from misalignment of teeth and is common among those that grind or clench their teeth.

Caring for your teeth and gums

The best way to hang on to your teeth and keep your gums healthy is through good basic oral health care:

  • Brush teeth and gums twice a day using a soft bristle brush and gentle strokes.
  • Floss daily.
  • Limit sweets.
  • Have dental check ups, yearly.
  • Visit your dental hygienist every six months.
  • Keep your mouth moist – use artificial saliva or saliva substitute, sugarless gums and mints.
  • Eat apples with their skin and other crunchy fruits and vegetables. They promote the production of saliva to wash away bacteria.
  • Brush your tongue reaching as far back as you can without gagging, to remove bacteria that causes gum disease and bad breath.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Eat a balanced diet rich in calcium. Calcium not only strengthens teeth, it also strengthens the bones that support teeth.
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Cosmetic solutions for aging teeth

  • Teeth Whitening – As we age the outer layer of tooth enamel wears down exposing the underlying layer which is yellower. Food and drink as well as smoking can cause discoloration. There are a number of methods to whiten teeth, both professionally and do-it-yourself kits.
  • Teeth Veneers - Veneers can hide discoloration, small breaks, cracks or crooked teeth. Porcelain veneers are thin shells that are custom fitted to your teeth and permanently attached to them. The procedure is costly, but they are the most natural and longest lasting solution for unattractive teeth.
  • Teeth Bonding or Dental Bonding - Teeth Bonding uses a plastic resin to repair the tooth. This procedure is much shorter and less expensive than porcelain veneers.
  • Braces - Age has little to do with whether you can get braces or not.  What does determine if you are a good candidate is the health of your mouth and your general health. Read about how I got braces at age 64.

In every procedure complications can occur. Be sure you have the proper dental health information, ask questions and inform your dentist of any health problems you may have before having any type of procedure done, even if they don't seem relevant.

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