Age Related Dental Problems

Common oral health issues in advancing years

At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice we see a wide range of patients of all ages. From young babies to the very elderly, we are here to help you have the best oral health possible, and to help enable you to have a functioning set of teeth. It is sometimes said that ‘youth is wasted on the young’, and most of us past a certain age would probably acknowledge that if we had the wisdom that we do now, we would have done some things differently. For some of our Burton dental patients, this would no doubt include the way that they looked after their teeth.

When we are young, we think little about our teeth unless we have a toothache. They seem strong and almost invincible as we crunch our way through sweets with not a care in the world, probably skipping cleaning our teeth when we can get away with it too.

Unfortunately, the folly of youth and the general wear and tear of life can have an impact on our teeth as we grow older. In today’s blog, we take a look at some of these common problems and what can be done in the way of restoration as we advance in years.

Broken teeth

The older we get, the more wear and tear our teeth have had to endure. Some of us will have stronger teeth than others due to our genes, but broken teeth due to them weakening over time is a common problem. The treatment for this will depend on individual circumstances. For less significant damage, it may be possible to fill the tooth, including using a tooth coloured filling for those wishing to have as natural a look as possible.

For more significant damage, crowns may be used instead. These provide additional strength which can make a big difference to how you feel about eating certain foods. Crowns are usually made from porcelain and in addition to the strength they provide, are also long lasting with the correct care.

Gum disease

Gum disease is more common in older people and can cause problems such as receding gums and bad breath. As with all ages, certain factors such as poor oral care and smoking can play a major role in this, but there is an issue which affects older people more which can also contribute to gum disease. The fact is that as we grow older, we produce less saliva. This is important for flushing away food and bacteria and, as we have discussed before, a dry mouth creates the perfect environment for potentially harmful bacteria to breed.

There are medications available for dry mouth syndrome but before this you should try to make sure that you stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This can be something that we forget to do but staying hydrated has a number of health benefits as well as helping to keep your gums healthy.

As with all age groups, it is also important that you make an appointment to see the dental hygienist at our Burton clinic for regular gum health checks and professional cleaning.

Stained and discoloured teeth

One thing that is inevitable as we grow older is that our teeth will lose that youthful whiteness that we probably took for granted. Some habits, such as smoking, will make this much worse (as well as increasing your risk of oral cancer) but even just the fact that the years have passed will take their toll and leave the teeth looking dull and often a yellow colour. The reason for this is that the dentin of our teeth, which is the layer below the enamel, will darken over time, gradually showing through the enamel which may also be thinner than it used to be.

This ‘yellowing’ effect can make us appear a lot older than our years and, understandably, many of you will want to reverse this. Unfortunately you simply can’t do this effectively at home, despite the claims of some TV adverts! To improve the whiteness of your teeth, you will need to see a cosmetic dentist for a teeth whitening procedure. For those whose teeth are very badly discoloured, the fitting of dental veneers may be a more beneficial option. Your dentist will be able to offer advice following an initial consultation.

Tooth loss

Although tooth loss is not inevitable, it is likely that most of us will have lost a tooth or two by the time we reach our later years. It may be tempting, at that age, to simply leave the gap and not worry too much about replacing it. More visible teeth may be a different matter and many will turn to dentures. Dentures do have a role to play but can also create a few problems for some people, especially when it comes to eating. We all know how important a nutritious diet is as we get older, in order to help fight off illnesses. The use of dentures though may lead to us avoiding some foods that we find difficult to eat and it is possible that we may be lacking in certain nutrients.

For a realistic tooth replacement option, we recommend dental implants. These are securely placed into the jawbone and offer a very high level of strength and stability which will enable you to eat whatever you want. They do require a minor surgical procedure and we will be pleased to discuss the pros and cons of this treatment with you.

Growing older can have its benefits as we leave behind the frustrations of youth. Our smiles and overall oral health can also be largely maintained through a combination of restorative and cosmetic dentistry. If you would like to discover how we can help you regain a youthful smile, why not call Mike Allen’s Dental Practice on 01283 845345 to arrange a consultation with one of our team?