Dental care as we age

As we get older, it’s natural to notice some changes in our bodies. Our teeth, while incredibly resilient, are likely to show signs of wear and tear from years of use. Over time, the protective enamel wears down, the biting edges may flatten, and gums may shrink. This all makes our teeth more prone to oral health issues like decay, cracks, and tooth and bone loss. However there’s plenty we can do to safeguard our teeth and keep them healthy for years to come.


Common age-related tooth changes

Discoloured teeth – ever wonder why teeth change colour? It’s because the outer layer, called enamel, wears down over time, revealing the yellowish tissue underneath. To prevent staining, try sipping tea and coffee through a straw and rinse with water afterward, or chat with your dentist about teeth whitening options.

Cracked or broken teeth – cracks or breaks in teeth can expose delicate nerve tissue, increasing the risk of infection. As we age, our sensitivity to tooth issues may increase, so it’s crucial to keep up with regular dental check-ups to catch problems early.

Dry mouth – dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications, caused by changes in the amount of (protective) saliva which is produced. Stay hydrated, try to breathe through your nose rather than your mouth, and consider using artificial saliva to alleviate discomfort.

Changes in our bite, alignment and position of teeth – as we age, the angle of our jawbone changes which can cause alterations in our ability to bite, chew and even talk. When a tooth is lost, the bony area underneath gradually sinks, and the other teeth can move into that spot. Maintaining your original teeth or replacing lost teeth with an implant can help prevent unwanted tooth movement.

Periodontal disease – gingivitis, or gum inflammation, can progress to periodontitis or severe gum disease if left untreated. Ideally, your gums should fit like a firm collar around each tooth as when pockets form, bacteria and infection can build up. Regular dental check-ups are essential for monitoring gum health and catching any issues early. Book an appointment today to see if your gums are within the healthy 0-3mm range.

Gum recession – ever heard the saying “getting long in the tooth”? It refers to gum recession, where gums pull back from the teeth, making them appear longer and exposing the sensitive tooth structure (dentin) underneath. Good oral care can prevent gum recession and keep tooth roots protected.


The good news about ageing teeth!

We should follow the same rules for oral care regardless of age. While we can’t change the effects of aging on our teeth, we can reduce the likelihood of cavities and gum disease. Key steps include brushing twice each day, using fluoridated toothpaste, and attending regular dental check-ups and professional cleans. Fluoride rinses, gels, or varnishes may also be recommended to prevent decay. Book an appointment with your dentist to stay on top of your dental health today.