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Healthy Aging for Your Teeth

While you may be aware of all the physical signs of aging, we often don’t think about how teeth are affected by the aging process.

September is Healthy Aging Month, a time to focus on the positive side of aging and to encourage overall wellness and healthy habits.

Oral health can be affected by certain medications, medical treatments and natural progression.

“As we get older, our teeth begin to show signs of aging,” said Michael Cooney, DDS. “Just as our hair loses pigment and turns white, the dentin or inner layers of our teeth will naturally darken or yellow with age. Teeth can also become discolored due to staining from drinks, certain foods, smoking and certain medications.”

Professional teeth whitening can safely restore a youthful, bright appearance to teeth and freshen a smile. With the advancements in bleaching, stained and discolored teeth can restore years to the appearance of a patient’s smile in just one visit.

Healthy aging for your smile can also be affected by medical treatments and prescriptions. According to the American Heart Association, 32 million Americans are taking three or more medications daily.

“Certain medications we take can dry out the mouth by reducing the amount of saliva that the mouth naturally produces. This creates an environment for harmful bacteria that can lead to decay or gum disease,” said Dr. Cooney.

Saliva is essential in aiding the digestion process, a healthy oral environment and the sense of taste. A significant reduction in saliva can cause symptoms like burning sensations, fungal and bacteria growth, and recession of the gum tissue. Routine dental exams and keeping your dentist up to date on your medical prescriptions and treatments are proactive ways to improve and maintain dental health.

Even financial stress can affect healthy aging for your teeth. Stress from financial instability and unclear retirement options have many dentists seeing a rise in bruxism (teeth grinding or clenching) and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) symptoms Frequet headaches, grinding, clenching, neck aches, jaw aches, headaches and toothaches can be indicators of bruxism and possibly TMD. This joint is comprised of ligaments, muscles and tendons that are essential for jaw movement, talking and eating.

An evaluation by Dr. Dale Williams, Dr. Monte Cooper or Dr. Michael Cooney can determine the best treatment and prevent unnecessary advanced wear and breakage due to stress.

For more information on healthy aging for your smile or to schedule a “healthy aging” smile evaluation, call (254) 666-1686.