What Happens to Your Teeth and Mouth as You Age?

Does Aging Teeth Necessarily Mean Tooth Loss?

Aging affects every part of your body, and your gums and teeth are not left out of this process. While some of the things that happen as you grow older are more noticeable than others, you do not want to forget what is happening in your mouth. Recent studies show that your aging teeth and oral health affects the rest of your body, sometimes causing serious health problems. 


Teeth and Gums Affect Your Health

As your age increases, you are likely to notice that your teeth and gums may change. Your gums may bleed, or you may get an infection in your gums. The bacteria in your mouth that causes these problems can also get into your blood stream. When that happens, it can lead to a whole range of other health problems – ones that you want to avoid. Some of them can even be fatal.

Lack of good dental health can lead to many serious diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, stroke, respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ED, and Alzheimer’s. It has also been connected to pneumonia and different types of cancer.


Seniors and Gum Disease

Seniors can be just as neglectful of proper oral care as some young people. Gum diseases, such as gingivitis and periodontitis can wreak havoc on your gums and teeth. Although gum disease is more likely to occur as you age, in the more extreme cases, it can cause deterioration to your gums, the structures that support your teeth, and to the jaw bone – resulting in tooth loss. 

Most seniors have gum disease, but the Academy of General Dentistry says that about 25 percent of those between 65 and 74 have periodontitis – the more severe form. Periodontitis can be recognized by pockets forming at the gum line in your gums. Pus may be oozing from them, and your gums are receding. Teeth may also become loose.


Dry Mouth

As you get older, you may experience dryness in your mouth. This is caused by less saliva being produced, but some medications or illnesses may also cause it. Treatment for cancer can also cause it.

A lack of sufficient saliva can lead to dental problems because it normally reduces the harmful bacteria in your mouth. It keeps the bacteria under control that can harm your teeth. As the amount of bad bacteria increases, it produces acids that deteriorate he enamel on your teeth. As the enamel becomes thinner, your teeth become more yellow. This is both a part of aging and because the layer under the enamel is a darker yellow. Drinking extra water can remedy this problem. 


Risk of Oral Cancer Increases

Oral cancer can also be a problem caused by the bacteria in your mouth. Smoking greatly increases the likelihood of developing cancer, but anyone can get it. Drinking alcohol also increases the risk. Early detection is necessary to stop it before it spreads very far. Most people who develop oral cancer are over 55, says the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

This particular cancer usually occurs without any pain. This means symptoms need to be noticed and diagnosed in order to catch it early. Your dentist is trained to spot it, but regular checkups are needed – even if you have dentures. The CDC reports that there were about 40,000 new cases of oral cancer in 2012 and about 9,000 deaths as a result.


Treating Periodontitis

Because gum disease can cause a wide variety of health problems, getting it treated early is important. It can save your teeth. The longer you wait, the more expensive the treatment becomes because the damage continues to become more extensive. 


Repairing Teeth

Cavities are now more common among seniors than among school children, Harvard reports. This is largely because the enamel becomes thinner, and gums tend to naturally recede as you get older. Nerves in your teeth also become less sensitive, possibly allowing your teeth to become more damaged than you think before you seek dental care.


Dental Care

Because dental issues can have such an impact on your overall health as you age, the importance of oral hygiene is no less than when you were younger. Missing teeth, aging teeth, cavities, etc., can be remedied to ensure you still have a good smile. Teeth whitening can also help your smile to be more attractive. Tooth replacement with a tooth implant or bridge can fill in the empty spaces, and dental veneers can cover up many problems with teeth. Teeth cleaning can help control gum disease, but more treatment may be necessary, depending on the extent of the problem. 

Taking care of your aging teeth at all ages is important to your overall health. If you live in the Carrollton, Grapevine, Dallas or Cedar Hill TX areas, you can visit the offices of Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist. He provides a wide range of dental services to patients of all ages, including geriatric dentistry. For a Free consultation or treatment to get better oral health, you can contact his office today at (214) 731-0124