As a dentist with 15+ years in practice, I’ve seen patients of all ages, from a 2-year-old toddler to a woman in her 90s.
The transformation in a smile can be quite stunning… going from a row of shiny white teeth with three-dimensional structure to teeth that are flattened, short and irregular.
While we can’t slow down aging, there are approaches to making our smile stay looking younger and confidently flashing our pearly whites in mature age.
Problem - As we age our teeth become flatter from chewing and grinding. Any damage from hard foods, opening bottles with teeth or chewing on ice can cause a change in shape and create cracks in the enamel, the outer layer of the tooth. Cracks can lead to food and bacteria staying inside the tooth thereby causing cavities.
Solution – Watching your diet is imperative as any hard foods can damage your teeth. Visiting your dentist regularly to check for cavities is also very important. In my office I try to catch cavities as quickly as possible to prevent them from growing. Remember, just because it doesn’t hurt doesn’t mean there is no problem in the tooth. Teeth that become painful are usually in need of a root canal treatment, a much more invasive procedure than a filling.
Problem – As we get older the type and amount of bacteria in the mouth changes. This is the result of hormonal changes that can also lead to dry mouth and bad breath.
Solution - Many dentists will recommend artificial moisturizers. Many women will also take hormonal supplements to combat changes in their bodies. Another recommendation would be to try a breath spray such as Veronica Greene Blood Orange and Ginger to freshen breath and to cleanse the palate.
Problem – Shorter front teeth lead to poor esthetics. The edges of front teeth should ideally show at least 3mm below the top lip when the mouth is slightly opened. This creates a youthful and properly proportioned look of the smile. With age teeth become shorter and often hide behind the upper lip making the face appear older.
Solution – This one is actually not too difficult to fix. Your dentist should be able to ‘elongate’ your front teeth either by adding white composite (filling) material to the teeth, shaping it properly to look like your own tooth and then curing it in place, just like a filling. This specific procedure is called Dental Bonding. Alternatively you may choose to have porcelain veneers or crowns placed on your front teeth for a stronger restoration.
Problem – Teeth changing color with age. They can become yellow or grey.
Solution – A whitening rinse such as Veronica Greene French Golden Pear will gently whiten teeth without harsh chemicals. We are very excited to launch our rinse next month. Stay tuned!!
Unbelievably enough, there is actually one advantage to aging teeth…a smaller pulp chamber.
What is a pulp chamber?
The nerve of each tooth, along with little blood vessels that supply the tooth with nutrients and moisture, is located in the middle of the tooth in an area called the pulp chamber. This chamber is very large in young age, which means that even a smallish cavity can lead to a root canal, i.e. a large chamber means less distance for bacteria to travel from the outside of the tooth until it reaches the nerve. As we age the chamber calcifies and becomes much smaller, which means even a deeper cavity will not reach or invade the nerve. This means no pain, no need for a root canal and less time in the dental chair.
But enough of the clinical stuff…
Next month I will address the more romantic side of oral care…one that will be sure to interest a woman of any age! Keep smiling and see you in October : )