What happens to teeth as we age? And what can we do to make our smiles last longer? This is an important question that needs to be answered.
What are teeth made of?
The crown of the tooth is covered with hard enamel that protects the pulp in the center surrounding the soft brown dentin.
Enamel is a complex tissue of brittle fibers gathered in a honeycomb pattern that reacts with light to make teeth appear iridescent (milk pearls iridescence).
Dentin, under the enamel, makes up most of the crown and root of the tooth and is composed of collagen, minerals, water and proteins. Collagen fibers are stretched and woven back and forth to prevent teeth from cracking and breaking as we grind and chew.
The pulp contains blood vessels and nerves that communicate with the rest of the body.
Mineral dentin and collagen contain tiny interconnected tubes formed by specialized cells called odontoblasts, which settle around the pulp once our teeth are fully formed. Each tooth contains a limited number of dental cells, unlike specialized bone cells that are constantly renewed.
How do our teeth change as we age?
Due to the inability to regenerate, our teeth become brittle and brittle when dentin loses its elasticity. This is more common in teeth with crack lines, large fillings, or root canal treatments. Over time, the outer surface of enamel thins, exposing relatively opaque dentin, which darkens with age. The dentin darkens as the collagen matrix hardens and contracts, and the fluid in the tubules becomes filled with minerals. Odontogenic cells form the dentin inside the tooth to reduce the exposed area of the tooth. But excess dentin makes our teeth opaque and protects our senses of heat and cold. That’s why X-rays are useful for detecting cavities that we don’t feel. Food and drink particles expand above and below the enamel, filling in the small spaces and fine lines associated with discoloration and staining.
As reported by the science website “Science Alert” from the prestigious website “The Conversation”, there are seven tips to avoid tooth loss.
1. Avoid unnecessary forces
– Avoid using your teeth to open work tools or packages.
– Wear a night guard and take steps to avoid forces such as grinding or pressure.
-If you have large fillings or root canal teeth, talk to your dentist about specific filling materials or crowns that can protect your teeth from cracking or breaking.
2. If you are missing molars or premolars, share the load
– Evenly distribute chewing forces to prevent overloading of your remaining teeth.
– Support your bite with bridges, implants or well-fitted dentures for missing teeth.
– Get your dentures checked regularly and replaced at least every ten years to ensure they fit and are properly supported.
3. Maintain your enamel
Minimize further loss of enamel and enamel by brushing with soft bristles and choosing non-abrasive toothpastes. Some whitening toothpastes can be abrasive, leading to roughening and wear of tooth surfaces. If you’re not sure, use toothpastes labeled “sensitive.”
– Reduce your exposure to acids found in food (like lemon or apple cider vinegar) or (reflux or vomiting) as much as possible to protect enamel and prevent erosion.
4. Increase saliva to protect against acid attacks
Saliva cleans our teeth and has antibacterial properties to reduce erosion and cavities (cavity formation). Saliva is important in helping you chew, swallow, and speak. But the quality and quantity of our saliva decreases due to age-related changes in the salivary glands and certain medications prescribed to treat chronic conditions such as depression and high blood pressure.
Talk to your doctor about other drug options to manage reflux disease to improve saliva or prevent irritation.
5. Treatment of gum disease
Treating gum disease (gingivitis) reduces gum recession (recession), which usually exposes relatively dark tooth roots that are prone to cavities.
6. Prevent cellular senescence
Cellular senescence is the process of changing the DNA in our cells to reduce their ability to withstand physical, chemical or biological damage; Cellular aging promotes the formation of new cancers, the spread of existing cancers, and the emergence of chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease.
Cell damage can be prevented by controlling lifestyle factors such as smoking, uncontrolled diabetes and chronic infections such as gum disease.
Aging can affect our cognition, dexterity and vision, preventing us from cleaning our teeth and gums as effectively as possible.
If this applies to you, talk to your dental care team. They can help you clean your teeth and recommend products and tools that are right for your condition and abilities.
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