Caring for Aging Teeth

Like our bodies, teeth need proper care to last a lifetime. Even though teeth are surprisingly resilient, everyday wear and tear and natural aging can take a toll. Along with following the American Dental Association’s guidelines on proper dental care (brush twice daily, floss once a day, and visit a dentist every six months for thorough cleaning and checkup) here are some tips to keep your pearly whites healthy:

Prevent Acid Erosion: People assume that sugary candy is the biggest stumbling block for good oral health. However, colas harm your teeth worse than candy because carbonation increases acid levels in the mouth. Sports drinks also endanger oral health because they can deteriorate tooth enamel. Limit the amount of sugary foods you consume, including candy, colas, and sports drinks.  Avoid frequent snacking, as it causes acid levels to remain high for an extended time. If you need something sweet, consider chewing sugarless gum, especially gum with xylitol as the main ingredient. Gum chewing causes the mouth to produce more saliva, which helps clean the mouth and lower acid levels.

Prevent Excessive Wear and Tear: “Contrary to what many people assume, teeth do not become more brittle with age,” states Steven Schonfield, Spokesperson for the ADA. However, teeth with fillings or root canals become more susceptible to chipping and cracking with age. Another cause of structural damage to teeth is bruxism, or the habit of grinding and clenching teeth. Over time, bruxism can wear down teeth and lead to breakage. Stop chewing ice and hard foods, and check for pits in olives, cherries, and other pitted foods.

Prevent Dry Mouth: Saliva helps clean your teeth and neutralize acid levels in your mouth. Dry mouth, or xerostomia, increases the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. As you age, you may take medications that cause your mouth to dry. If you notice your mouth becoming dry due to a medication, consult your physician and request a substitute. If unable to change prescriptions, chew sugarless gum to promote saliva production. Also, consider an oral mouthwash to help moisten your mouth.

With proper care, teeth can last a lifetime! If it is time for your six-month dental visit, call me, Dr. James Stewart, at (734)425-4400. I care for residents of Livonia, Novi, Farmington Hills, and surrounding areas.