How to Prevent Tooth Loss in Old Age
Father Time is a cruel thief, robbing you of your hair, your porcelain skin, and your ability to use the latest tech without consulting your reluctant grandchild. But you can stop this kleptomaniac from taking many of the things you cherish, including your pristine smile.
The stereotype of a retiree is someone who either has black and withering prongs where their teeth used to be or someone who relies on a set of pearly-white dentures that they pop into a glass every night. It’s a terrifying prospect for anyone who values an all-natural Hollywood smile, but thankfully, it can be prevented.
Follow these tips throughout your early years and your teeth will remain yours as you approach retirement age.
You knew this was going to be included, but don’t worry, we’re not going to lecture you on the dangers of smoking. If you do it, you know it’s bad; you know the damage it’s causing and you’re probably seeking help.
What we will say, however, is that the damage goes much deeper than you might have thought. Many smokers believe the connection between bad dental hygiene and cigarettes is the result of tar stains or dry mouth. But this doesn’t tell the whole story.
Smoking can also restrict blood flow in your mouth, which means it prevents infections from healing. Add a little gum disease to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster.
Smokers lose their teeth much sooner than non-smokers. It’s not unusual to see a lifelong smoker with a mouthful of decayed enamel in their forties. And once it gets to that point, there’s very little you can do. Sure, decay can be fixed and stains can be removed (with help from whitening kits like Snow) but if gum disease has set in, they’ll need to be pulled.
Refresh that Dry Mouth
Your saliva plays an important role in your oral health. Not only does it carry essential minerals to your teeth, but it also reduces the acidity.
Every time you eat acidic foods, that acidity can attack your enamel and begin wearing it down. Furthermore, if you have GERD, the acidity can increase further, creating a toxic environment for your teeth.
Dry mouth can be caused by medication and limited water intake. Drink as much water as you can throughout the day, use fluoride toothpaste, and get that GERD under control!
Eat Well and Brush Often
We often misunderstand the risks posed by sugar, believing it to be the devil. This is worsened by the fact that the soda industry has been demonized and blamed for adolescent tooth decay.
However, while sugar can be very damaging, the damage it does is dependent on how you’re consuming it.
The problem with sugar is that it interacts with the bacteria in your mouth and produces acid that can damage your teeth. The longer that sugar lingers, the more damage it will do.
As a result, drinking a can of soda isn’t going to do that much harm, but eat candies will. The former will wash straight down your throat; the latter will stick to your teeth and become trapped between them.
Chips and other simple starches can also do more damage than sugary sodas, as they also get trapped between your teeth and create a toxic environment.
Feel free to drink soda, just remember to rinse your mouth out and then brush when you’re done. And if you’re going to eat simple starches and sugar, make sure you floss, rinse, and brush vigorously when you’re finished.
Keep Your Appointments
It’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t need to visit a dentist because there’s nothing wrong. It’s easy to dismiss that pain, that crack or that decay, and tell yourself that you’ll be okay.
Few people enjoy visiting the dentist and no one likes paying for it, and if you have a busy work/home life and a limited budget, you have all the excuses you need.
But every time you dismiss those appointments, you’re putting yourself at risk. Problems develop slowly and, if left untreated, can become much more serious. Decay can lead to extractions and root canals; chips could be the result of bruxism; bleeding could be a sign of serious gum disease.
Visit early, keep your appointments, and prioritize your dental health.
Why Does Ageing Lead to Tooth Loss?
The risk of tooth decay is at its greatest during childhood when teeth are forming, diets are sugar-laden, and problems thrive. So, if tooth decay isn’t as big of an issue for older people as it is for kids, why is tooth loss so prevalent?
There are actually several things at play here. Firstly, decay can be more common in restored dental work. The older we get, the less we care about work that was performed years or even decades ago. If it’s not causing you any pain, why would you care about a filling that was fitted in your thirties?
Secondly, adult teeth don’t grow back, and you only have 32 of them. If decay, cracks, growing problems, trauma, and other issues cause you to have your wisdom teeth pulled in your 20s, 3 molars in your 40s, and 2 premolars in your 50s, you’re now operating at just 75% capacity.
Throw some gum disease in the mix and that could drop to 40% or 50%, at which point it may make more sense to just remove everything.
Gum disease is actually one of the biggest issues here and, if left untreated, can seriously damage your oral health. It worsens with age and can get to a point where your teeth feel like they’re wedged in place with chewing gum, requiring little effort for the dentist to pluck them out.
So, maintain your oral health, keep gum disease at bay, and do what you can to hold onto your original teeth—they’re one of the best assets you have!
And don’t forget, if you want those teeth to shine and dazzle people everywhere you go, grab a whitening kit from Snow. It can be used on all teeth and at all ages.