What Can I Expect to Happen to My Teeth and Gums as I Age?

Aging can take its toll on teeth and gums. Certain conditions such as gum disease and dental caries may require extra attention from dentists during a patient’s later years. Additionally, years of pressure placed on teeth and gums from chewing food and teeth grinding or clenching can produce tiny cracks in tooth enamel and even wear teeth down from their natural size and shape. Exposure to acidic foods and beverages also poses a threat to a patient’s tooth enamel – the tooth’s natural protection against cavity-causing bacteria.

Some patients in their later years might experience tooth wear. This can occur from a misaligned bite or bruxism (the act of grinding and clenching teeth). As the teeth scrape against each other unnecessarily, the biting surfaces of teeth become worn down. Tooth wear may require endodontic treatment such as root canal therapy and restorative procedures such as placing a crown to restore a worn tooth to its proper shape and size.

Accompanying tooth wear and caused by repeated exposure to acid, some patients may experience enamel loss as well. Tooth enamel is composed of strong minerals and surrounds the entire portion of the tooth above the gum line. Enamel protects teeth from bacteria, which cause decay. Exposure to acids over time from beverages such as coffee and citric foods can weaken tooth enamel substantially leaving teeth vulnerable to cavity-causing bacteria. With routine dental checkups, your dentist can address enamel loss with fluoride treatments to strengthen teeth and restorative services such as fillings to manage the spread of decay.

Older patients may also develop gum recession and gum disease. Gum recession involves gingival tissue pulling away from the teeth. A number of factors including bruxism, poor oral hygiene, and gum disease can cause this condition. Furthermore, older patients with certain medical conditions and lifestyle habits possess an increased risk for developing gum disease. When gum disease is detected in its early stages, the condition is manageable with professional care and meticulous oral hygiene.

To learn more about protecting your oral health as you age, contact our dentists serving Tarrant County to schedule a dental checkup.