4 facts about aging teeth and gums

October 2, 2015

When your dental health's tip-top, there's no need to hesitate before enjoying life's little pleasures. Here's some ways to keep your teeth looking good as you age.

4 facts about aging teeth and gums

1. Teeth problems are health problems

  • Healthy gums guard against major health problems.
  • Even low-level gum disease can stimulate your immune system around the clock. This fuels chronic, low-level inflammation that contributes to clogged arteries, high blood sugar and perhaps Alzheimer's disease.

2. Your mouth's aging process

  • Most older people have receding gums, a sign of early gum disease.
  • Half already have periodontitis, or advanced gum disease.
  • Your natural supply of mouth-cleansing saliva also declines with age. Some health conditions and medicines also cause lower saliva output.
  • Less saliva is one reason older teeth "grow" a bigger layer of sticky, colorless plaque faster than younger people's teeth do.
  • Natural changes in dentin — the bone-like tissue beneath the enamel — may make your teeth look darker.

3. Keep an eye on cavities

  • It may take longer to notice the little twinges that mean a tiny cavity's growing. As a result, you may have more untreated cavities, or worse ones, as you get older.
  • Cavity prone, you may find that you're developing new ones in surprising spots, such as underneath or next to existing fillings.
  • Experts now say that the most cavity-prone age group isn't the under-10 set. It's people over age 65.

4. The changing smile of aging teeth

  • Better oral health means more people are keeping more of their teeth.
  • As recently as 1960, two out of three people over age 75 had lost all of their natural teeth.
  • That number has dropped significantly, but gum disease and tooth decay afflict about one in four older people.

There are ways to  reverse or even prevent tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath and dry mouth. Just your teeth and gums the extra love and care that they, and you deserve.

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