Getting older is not something we look forward to, but it happens to us all (and as my Grandpa used to say it’s better than the alternative).

As dentists we are particularly mindful of the changes that occur to teeth and gums during advancing age, as it presents a specific set of problems. Once teeth are formed they have to last a whole lifetime. After a life time of chewing, teeth become weak, wear down and accumulate cracks.

This results in chipping and fracturing of teeth, especially in teeth with large amalgam fillings. Gum disease is the rotting away of the gum and bone that hold your teeth in place. It is accumulative disease, so as we age the effects of gum disease worsen. Often this can lead to recession of the gums (getting long in the tooth). This results in the softer ‘root surface’ of the teeth being more exposed. This surface is harder to clean and much more susceptible to decay.

Also increasing the risk of decay is a reduction in saliva flow with age, often due to medications. Low levels of saliva will greatly increase the chance of decay and gum disease and combined with the above factors can create significant challenges to the long-term health of ones teeth. But don’t despair because modern dentistry has many answers to the dental problems of the mature individual. Regular examinations should pick up problems early before they become insurmountable, cracked teeth, gum disease, teeth decay and low saliva can and should be preventatively managed by a dentist and dental hygienist, and where necessary teeth that are weak can be reinforced and strengthened using modern dentistry. This way one can stay ahead of age related problems, and enjoy the benefits of good teeth no matter what age.