As we age, our bodies need different types of care – and our teeth are no different. The dental care and teeth-cleaning routine that worked for you in your 20s may need to be tweaked as you enter various life stages. For beautiful, healthy teeth that last a lifetime, here are guidelines for caring for your teeth into your 30s, 40s and 50s.
In your 30s
By the time you reach your 30s, most issues you may have had with tooth decay and orthodontia are on the decline. You may have had braces in your teens, and some cavities in your 20s, but good oral hygiene practices are, for the most part, paying off.
An issue 30-somethings may experience is heightened sensitivity from teeth grinding – whether one is conscious of the grinding behavior or, as is more common, it occurs in your sleep. In addition, brushing too hard can cause the gums to recede, triggering tooth sensitivity. Be gentle when brushing and flossing. Your dentist can make you a custom-fitted guard to keep your teeth from grinding against each other. A toothpaste for sensitive teeth will help with the pain.
Gum disease or periodontitis is sometimes related to changes in hormones that occur during pregnancy. Let your dentist know if you’re pregnant and make sure to do a good job with flossing. Your gums may get puffy and bleed, but it usually resolves after you have your baby.
In your 40s
When you and your teeth are over 40 years old, the fillings you got earlier in life may wear out. Silver- colored fillings wear out quicker, but tooth-colored fillings also only last about 15-20 years. Fillings can crumble or fall out entirely. It is important to continue seeing your dentist for cleanings and exams every six months. Your dentist can identify whether fillings are breaking down and help prevent decay in the area.
Receding gums tend to be first noticed in adults over 40, although the receding gums can begin much earlier. As gums pull away from the teeth, the root becomes exposed, causing temperature and touch sensitivity, as well as an increased risk of decay. In many cases, tooth sensitivity related to receding gums can be resolved with a change in tooth-care practices; more advanced cases may require skin grafts.
The 40s are also a good time to consider professional teeth whitening. Discolored teeth can make you look older, and a whiter smile can boost your confidence with your appearance.
In your 50s
Saliva is one of the things that keeps your mouth healthy. It breaks down food and washes it away so that bacteria don’t grow. Dry mouth is a problem for many people in their 50s due to hormonal changes that occur with aging, and as a side-effect of many common medications. Drinking lots of water and chewing sugarless gum can help stimulate saliva and keep the mouth rinsed, not giving bacteria a chance to grow.
If you have any missing teeth, it’s time to look into getting dental implants or dentures. A space in your mouth contributes to other teeth shifting and can cause additional tooth loss or gum disease.
Dr. Steven Hagerman and his staff provide friendly and caring dentistry for adults and children of all ages in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. For cleanings, general dentistry, and cosmetic procedures, call (651) 646-2392 for an appointment today.