Looking After Our Teeth And Gums In Later Life

Don’t tolerate poor oral health just because you’re getting older!

Middle aged couple with good teethIf you take notice of advertisements on TV, in the press or on social media, you can’t help but have noticed that most of those for the dental industry are geared largely towards younger people. Various methods of teeth whitening and achieving straight even teeth are two of the most popular.

It is good that young people are now interested in both the appearance and health of their teeth and gums, but it is also important to remember that we will all (hopefully) grow old, and that good oral health care should not stop in our fifties or sixties and beyond.

Although we may be less focussed on the appearance of our teeth when we are older, it is still important that they remain as healthy as possible.

A strong set of teeth can have a positive effect on our quality of life; indeed, in our old age, it can also make a significant difference to the quality of our diet and subsequent health.

At the AJ Dental Group in Woking, we aim to help patients of all ages, young and old, to have healthy teeth and gums, both through preventative care and through restoration where it becomes necessary.

Prevention

Diligent home care is important as well as seeing one of our dental team for regular check ups. We also strongly recommend that both young and old attend hygienist appointments on a regular basis. These are usually every six months, but older patients may benefit from having them more frequently as they are in a higher risk group for gum disease. One of the things that happens when we get older is that saliva production is reduced and this has a negative effect in two ways. The reduced quantity of saliva means that it is less likely to flush away food residue and bacteria from our mouth and dryness also creates the ideal environment for bacteria to thrive.

Seeing the hygienist and dentist, whilst maintaining a sensible diet and a good cleaning routine at home, are the best ways to keep your oral health on track.

Restoration

Although anyone can have poor quality teeth, the reality is that the longer we live, the more damage is likely to have been done to them. Whether this is through poor oral care or simple wear and tear, it does mean that, as we get older, we may need more restorative treatment to help keep our teeth healthy and functioning. Whilst treatments, such as fillings and crowns are commonplace for patients of all ages, there are a few treatments which may be particularly useful for the dental problems we experience in later life.

Yellow teeth

With old age comes tooth discolouration. Even if we brush our teeth well and avoid tooth staining food and drinks, we will nearly all end up with teeth that are no longer as white as they used to be. This is due to the fact that the dentin layer beneath the enamel darkens as we get older and will start to show beneath the enamel surface. The degree to which this happens will vary from patient to patient and depends on a number of factors including the thickness of the enamel surface. For example, someone who has suffered from enamel erosion through exposure to acidic food and drinks, or through over brushing is likely to have teeth that are more discoloured than someone with healthy enamel.

Yellow teeth can be perfectly healthy, but they do tend to make us look older and they are certainly less attractive. Our teeth will function perfectly well if discoloured but you might wish to consider having them whitened using our affordable teeth whitening treatment. It won’t make your teeth stronger, but it will give you a nicer and more youthful looking smile.

Where the discolouration is very severe, it is possible to replace the affected enamel and replace it with porcelain veneers.

Missing teeth

Tooth loss is quite common in older patients and this presents a problem that goes beyond aesthetics. For most people, dentures have traditionally been the answer. These do offer some help but they can also mean that we might avoid eating things that we previously enjoyed, just because they are difficult to chew. Whether you are missing individual teeth or a full arch, you might wish to consider dental implants as an alternative to dentures. Tooth implants can be placed for patients of any age, subject to them being suitable. It does require a surgical procedure, unlike dentures, but the benefits on offer are well worth it in our opinion.

Not only will you not have to ‘fiddle about’ with denture cement, but once your implants have been placed and bonded with the bone, they are easy to look after and offer a strong and extremely stable replacement for your natural teeth.

If you have avoided certain foods because of your dentures and have missed them, you will find that they no longer pose a challenge and that you can eat whatever you want, including those ultra sticky toffees that many people love!

Growing old is inevitable; poor quality teeth and gums are not. Make sure that you take good care of yours and allow our Woking dental team to help you to achieve this. To make an appointment to see us about anything oral health related, please call the AJ Dental Group on 01483 766355 or 01932 352333.

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