There are a number of problems and changes associated with older teeth that cannot always be avoided
Structural - mouths can get by well with smaller fillings in a number of teeth or larger fillings in a few teeth; it is when there are large fills in a large number of teeth that things start falling apart.
Decay - use fluoride toothpaste, watch your frequency of sugar consumption, and drink more water.
Gum disease - floss your teeth at least three times per week, brush gently and thoroughly.
Aesthetics - if there is anything that you have always wanted to change about your teeth, get organised and ask about it, what are you waiting for?
Older teeth have often suffered through a less enlightened time in dentistry, when the holes that dentists drilled were much bigger than the actual decay. This leads to a reduction in the natural elasticity of the tooth and weakening of the remaining structure. Repeated loading of the teeth causes flexing and will, in time, cause pieces of tooth to crack and/or fracture off.
Some teeth with big fillings may benefit from being crowned. A crown covers the whole tooth down to the gum line and restores the shape, smoothness, colour and function of the original.
Bad cracks can travel into the nerve of the tooth and cause an abscess. Very bad cracks can split the tooth and demand its extraction.
Crowns hold the tooth together but a bad crack in the remaining tooth structure can lead to an abscess at some stage in the future.
A crown will not guarantee to stop the crack but will slow it down.
Any reduction on saliva flow rates can lead to an increase in decay rate because your saliva washes sugars away from your teeth.
Drier mouths are not a function of age, but can be linked to a large variety of medications.
If you suspect you have a dry mouth there are a few things you can do
- Sugar free chewing gum will aid stimulation of salivary ducts
- Drink lots of water,
- Keep up the fluoride in the form of toothpaste. Fluoride takes the calcium in the saliva and moves it back into the demineralised tooth.
- If we advise it, use strong fluoride toothpaste to recharge the enamel
Your gums ability to put up with plaque and accumulated foods decreases with age. This is why you can get away with not flossing when you were a kid but now the gums bleed when you brush. Bleeding is a sign of disease; make it go away by flossing!
Gums do not recede due to age. If your teeth are getting longer, this is caused by one of two behaviours:
-Over brushing, brushing the teeth too hard (harder than you would brush your lips!) will push the gum off the tooth, it will never reattach.
-Under brushing, if you don’t clean away the plaque that gathers at the gum line then it will cause the gums to become inflamed and peel off the teeth
Remember- the plaque needs dislodging not scrubbing
Aesthetic- improves function and as a bonus looks good. Cosmetic- purely for looks.
Bleaching- more successful on older teeth yellowed with time.
Orthodontics- can be fitted at any age, it just takes longer in adults and we complain more about the pain.
Nothing is as strong as an untouched tooth. Try to bear this in mind in your next life