We wake up in the morning and look in the mirror; A few more gray hairs, a wrinkle that never existed, eyes appear a bit redder. Yes, we are aging. We embrace our wisdom, our self-confidence, and our achievements. We take solace in our relationships, children, and grandchildren. But what is happening to our once beautiful smiles? When did my teeth start to look so yellow, so long and so chipped? Welcome to middle age and beyond.
Factors that Affect Oral Aging
- Tooth Wear: From years of eating, grinding, crunching, and gnawing the outer surface of the tooth (enamel) is worn down; bruxism (grinding while we sleep) causes a lot of damage such as the recession of gums, loss of vertical dimension, and collapse of a person’s profile
- Acidic Foods: citrus fruits and carbonated beverages erode the enamel exposing the dark under surface known as dentin
- Trauma: All the bumps, bangs, and sports injuries add up, affecting the pulp (nerve of the tooth). Cracks appear in the enamel that can lead to fractures
- Xerostomia: Dry mouth from medications, smoking and drinking alcohol-dry mouth leads to an increase in caries (cavities) and periodontal disease
- Smoking: Tobacco directly linked to oral cancer which increases in prevalence after age sixty-five
- Alcohol: excess related to an increase in oral cancer, particularly the throat. Both smoking and drinking together geometrically increase the chance for cancer. Cancer is a disease of old age. Its numbers increase as our immune system is depleted. So what was held in check at age forty-five is much more detrimental at age sixty-five.
- Hard Brushing: Gum recession from hard toothbrushes, erosive toothpaste, bruxism, and orthodontics when we were young. Gum shrinks away from the crown of the tooth exposing the roots
- Decay Around Decade: Old fillings that have worn out at the seams, the juncture where the filling met the tooth structure
- Poor Oral Hygiene: You must brush two times daily for two minutes with a soft brush, must floss every night before bed; if not periodontal disease will occur which is an infection of the gum and bone that holds the teeth into the mouth. Periodontitis is the single biggest cause of tooth loss as we age.
- Diet: must reduce refined carbohydrates, keep sugar out of coffee and tea, no soda, avoid honey and dry fruits
- Regular Checkups: Dental work in the office one must remove decay, treat periodontal disease, repair and replace decayed and missing teeth. Oral homeostasis (balance ) must be maintained throughout life. If we lose teeth the remaining teeth will shift, destroying the integrity of the arch and leading to even more problems Completing Invisalign therapy and wearing night guards and retainers when necessary is a must.
What Changes do we See?
- Mark Twain referred to old age as “getting long in the tooth. He was astute as he observed that older folks’ teeth appear longer than when they were young. This is called recession, and to some degree affects all of us as time goes by. The gum is migrating up and exposing the roots of the teeth, thus making the tooth look longer
- Our teeth appear darker, yellower. As the hard, white enamel is worn away the underlying softer layer, dentin, is exposed. Dentin’s color is much darker than enamel and ranges in yellows, browns, and grays.
- When we eat the salad stays in between our teeth. Due to recession spaces get bigger where the tooth meets the gum. The spaces are called embrasures.
- In profile, our nose and chin are coming closer together. We have more severe puppet lines, and our mouth is spreading across our faces. As the surfaces of the teeth wear down the distance that the teeth held (like a doorstop) when closed are diminished. Thus we overclose and we see the sagging, baggy-looking skin. This is called loss of vertical dimension and is a major factor in making us look older.
How to Prevent Dental Aging
- Good oral hygiene through brushing and flossing
- Biannual checks ups at our dental office
- Completing all necessary dental work
- Wear nite guards and Invisalign aligners
- Wearing occlusal guards when playing sports
- Keeping away from sugar in our diet
- Cosmetic dentistry – such as porcelain veneers, Invisalign therapy, and smile makeovers
- That restore beauty and integrity to the smile and add volume to the face
Book an Appointment at 172 NYC Dental
Aging is not a disease. It is part of living. It is to be embraced and honored. At 172 NYC Dental we conservatively, esthetically, and compassionately make your life’s journey one that will always keep you smiling. Call to book an appointment today!