Your body changes as you grow and age, and your mouth is no exception. Understanding how your mouth changes with age will help you make the right decisions to stay healthy.
The teeth have several parts:
- The outermost layer is the enamel. This is the part of the tooth you are accustomed to seeing, and is the strongest tissue in the body. It is hard, shiny, and white, and covers the chewing surface or crown of the tooth.
- Dentin is a brown layer below the enamel, and makes up most of the tooth. Although dentin is porous, it’s hard and solid.
- Below the dentin is the pulp of the tooth. This soft tissue houses blood vessels, nerves and other connective tissue, nourishing teeth as they grow. Once teeth are mature, the pulp provides sensory input from the tooth to the body.
- Each tooth has roots, which are anchored in bone.
- Teeth are surrounded by soft pink tissue called gums.
Your Aging Mouth: Enamel and Dentin
Once a tooth reaches maturity, it contains all the enamel it will ever have. The dentin layer, however, is constantly growing thicker. Though teeth start out completely covered in white enamel, the enamel wears away over time. At the same time, the brown dentin layer continues to thicken. The result is a darkening or discoloration of the teeth with age as the dentin layer becomes visible below the enamel. Even good oral hygiene cannot stop these changes from occurring. However, bleaching or veneers can help whiten teeth for improved appearance.
Your Aging Mouth: Pulp, Bones and Gums
As the dentin in teeth thickens, the pulp chamber inside the teeth shrinks. This leads to less sensitive teeth, which can be a problem because cavities may go undetected in older people with decreased tooth sensitivity. Gum disease can cause bones in the jaw and mouth to deteriorate. Bacteria and plaque on the teeth cause pockets to form between your teeth and gums, leading to infection. If left untreated, this infection can deteriorate the bones, causing teeth to loosen or fall out. Warning signs of gum diseases include bleeding gums or teeth that appear longer than they once did. This can be an indication that the gums are pulling away from the teeth. If you think you may have gum disease, regardless of your age, see a dentist at once.
As you age, your body matures and changes. Being aware of these changes can help you make informed decisions about your health. The providers at Roseman Dental are great resources for understanding dental health and accessing high quality, affordable dental care.