Aging and Dental Health: Losing Teeth

There is a strong relationship between your dental health and your overall physical health. A recent study found that nearly one-third of people over 65 had untreated dental caries (cavities). In older people, these are found not only in the crown (visible portion) of the tooth, but also in the root, which may become exposed due to gum recession. Regular dental checkups are the best way to find and treat dental caries; left untreated, they can cause pain, require more complex procedures, and eventually lead to lost teeth. Your mouth changes as you age. The nerves in your teeth can become smaller, making your teeth less sensitive to cavities or other problems. If you don’t get regular dental exams, this in turn can lead to these problems not being diagnosed until it is too late. If you want to feel good, stay healthy, and look great throughout life, you might be surprised what a difference a healthy mouth makes.

Does Losing Teeth Suggest Inferior Health?

Tooth loss or ‘dental mortality’ is one of the most important indicators of oral health status in older adults; it reflects the lifelong cumulative effects of both disease and social factors. Tooth loss can have a profound effect on the quality of life of older individuals by restricting food choices, impairing chewing ability, affecting speech, limiting social interaction and lowing the self-esteem.

Effect of Tooth Loss

The causes of tooth decay are the same for all ages. Decay happens when the bacteria in plaque feeds on the sugar in our diet. Many older adults grew up without fluoride in the water, which means they are more likely to have decay around fillings. Decay of the tooth root is also common in older adults because when the gums recede this exposes the root surface which decays easier than harder tooth enamel. Smile Restored with Implant Supported Denture. The loss of teeth can drastically change one’s appearance. Just one missing tooth may be enough to keep us from smiling. In this case, we can see how the muscles in the face are properly supported and the facial height (distance from chin to nose) appears normal. Significant tooth loss can make you look older than you really are. Not only does tooth loss affect your appearance, but it can also cause health problems such as chronic headaches and jaw pain.

Preventing Lost Teeth

By adopting healthy oral habits at home, making smart choices about diet and lifestyle, and seeking regular dental care, you can help your teeth last a lifetime—whether you have your natural teeth, implants or wear dentures. Tips for maintaining teeth and good oral health at older age are as under:

  • Brush twice a day with a toothbrush with soft bristles. You may also benefit from using an electric toothbrush.
  • Clean between your teeth once a day with floss or another flossing tool.
  • If you wear full or partial dentures, remember to clean them on a daily basis. Take your dentures out of your mouth for at least four hours every day. It’s best to remove them at night.
  • Drink tap water. Since most contains fluoride, it helps prevent tooth decay no matter how old you are.
  • Quit smoking. Besides putting you at greater risk for lung and other cancers, smoking increases problems with gum disease, tooth decay and tooth loss.
  • Visit your dentist. Visit your dentist ridgewOOd ny regularly for a complete dental check-up.
  • Preventative maintenance helps older adults keep their natural teeth much longer. This important health activity includes:
  • Brushing and flossing real or replacement teeth twice daily
  • Using toothpaste containing fluoride
  • Eating a healthy diet and limiting sweets
  • Avoiding risk factors like alcohol and tobacco
  • Visiting a dentist at least every six months


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