Be proud of your mouth – it’s the gateway to your body. Just like healthcare in a toddler is very different to that of an adult, so too should dental care differ for people of different ages, routines and lifestyles.
As if adulting isn’t enough to deal with, we also need to be cognizant of how age and lifestyle changes affect our oral health.
Tooth decay is a big problem, even in adults. It’s as important to implement daily oral care into your routine as an adult, as it was when you were a child. That is, brush twice a day, floss at least once a day, eat healthily and see your dentist and hygienist regularly. Infection, damage to bone or nerve and tooth loss are all examples of what untreated dental disease can lead to. Dental infections can even spread to other parts of the body and even be life-threatening.
When cavities are too deep to treat normally, you need a root canal treatment. This is when the soft center (pulp) of a tooth is removed, and the root canal is cleaned and sealed. This pulp consists of nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels.
Issues affecting younger Adults
Wisdom teeth often appear in young adults. If your mouth doesn’t have enough space for them to grow normally or in the correct position, they might need to be removed. Every case is unique, but you will likely need them removed if they cause issues such as pain or infection. It’s important to see your dentist regularly, so potential issues can be detected early.
Many people between the ages of 25 and 40 settle down and start families. Pregnancy introduces an entirely different set of needs for your teeth. Also, did you know that if your mouth is healthy, it’s more likely that your baby’s mouth will be healthy? Ask your dentist and obstetrician about supplements you can take during pregnancy. If the mother doesn’t get enough calcium, for example, the baby will draw what it needs from mom.
In addition, due to acid flowing over teeth from the constant throwing up brought on by morning sickness, the tooth’s enamel can be lost to the point that the teeth change in colour, shape and length. Ask our dentists how best to prevent your teeth and oral health being affected, and how to remedy any damage already done.
When the middle-aged phase hits
Gum disease is a group of diseases that affect the gum and the bone surrounding our teeth. The first type, gingivitis, is characterized by swollen and bleeding gums when brushed or flossed. This type of gingivitis is reversible, if proper oral care is practiced. If left untreated, it can lead to a more serious condition, called periodontitis.
The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are two joints that connect your lower jaw to your skull. The term TMJ is also used to refer to ailments in the temporomandibular joints. Read more about TMJ and how we treat it here.
Teeth-grinding or bruxism can cause serious damage to your teeth and jaw. This is often done while sleeping , so your dentist may recommend a mouth-guard, to protect your teeth while you sleep.
Discoloured teeth are also common with age. Smoking, and consuming food and drink often lead to this. Chat to us about the different whitening treatments we offer, to give you a brighter, glowing smile!
If a tooth is discoloured from the inside due to caries, trauma or after a root canal treatment, it’s best to whiten (bleach) from the inside of the tooth. Internal bleaching can only be performed on a tooth that’s undergone successful root canal therapy. The procedure involves removing any decayed material that’s causing discoloration, and then injecting a bleaching agent within your tooth. After two or three days, the bleaching agent is removed and the hole will be carefully sealed.
Oral health conditions become more prevalent and visibly impactful in adults 60 and older. Proper oral care in the younger years will reduce the severity of these issues in older age, but our mouths still require the correct care as we age.
Generally, as we age, cells renew at a slower rate, tissues become thinner and less elastic bones become less dense and strong. The immune system can also become weaker, so infection can occur more quickly and healing takes longer.
Problems more common in adults 60 and over are:
Gums receding to expose the root surfaces (soft tissue) of teeth. Although this begins in adults over 40, it gets worse with age. Gum recession is contributed to by rigorous brushing throughout one’s life, but is also commonly caused by periodontitis (or severe gum disease).
This increases chances of bacteria building up and causing inflammation and decay. Milder cases can be treated with orthodontics, topical antibiotics or bonding. More serious cases may need surgery.
Gum recession is also a leading cause of sensitive teeth. This is further brought on by increased wear and tear on teeth, over time. To ease sensitivity, use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth, or ask us about extra fluoride, sealants and other treatments.
Certain health conditions, medication or age can increase the risk of dry mouth. Because saliva plays an integral role in maintaining the health of the mouth, protecting against decay and keeping gums healthy, dry mouth can lead to issues such as mouth sores, gum disease, thrush and problems chewing and swallowing.
In every stage of life, oral conditions can be avoided or mitigated through proper oral care. This includes:
- Brushing twice a day
- Flossing once a day
- Avoiding sugar-rich foods and drinks
- Avoiding smoking
- Seeing your dentist and hygienist regularly
Contact us if you’d like further guidance on how best to care for your mouth, and that of your loved ones.