As we reach adulthood we are obviously now responsible for our own health and well being. The importance of dental health cannot be underestimated.
Most of us are now working and leading very busy lives, but it is important not to neglect our teeth. Society today places a lot of importance on health and appearance, and people often form opinions based on how we look. Many studies have shown that people look first at our eyes and then our teeth when they first meet us. Consequently a good healthy well cared for mouth and teeth are important throughout adulthood.
Hopefully you will have looked after your teeth in your teenage years and developed the necessary skills and habits to care for your teeth. If you haven’t, you need to start now before it is too late. Adults are still very much at risk of developing cavities, but the most common problem we develop through adulthood is gum disease. Just as in all age categories, regular brushing and flossing are the basis of sound oral health.
Several areas of particular concern to adult dental health are:
Gum disease is a progressive disease, and starts out initially as gingivitis, which is reversible and consists of swollen red gums, which bleed when you brush and can cause bad breath. If left untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, which means an infection in the bone, which holds the teeth in place. This is a very serious disease and if left untreated will lead to wobbly teeth, very sensitive teeth, difficulty eating, infections and eventually the loss of teeth.
Recent studies have now shown a link between gum disease and diabetes and heart disease.
If you have already had a filling you may think you can’t get any more decay in that tooth. Unfortunately, the tooth can continual to decay around the old filling or even under the filling (which is another reason for regular dental x-rays). As we get older we can also start to get decay along the root surface of the teeth.
As we get older our teeth often appear as if they are getting longer. This is due to the gum shrinking back away from the tooth. The gum normally protects the root surface of the tooth, but as it recedes the root surface becomes exposed. The root surface is not as hard or well protected as the top of the tooth and is more prone to decaying and is often very sensitive to hot or cold drinks, sweet foods and sometimes even just breathing cold air. It is important to see your dentist who will help to diagnose the problem, so as to prevent further damage and they will probably recommend the use of a special toothpaste and fluoride to help strengthen the root surface.
Often we have had large fillings placed in our mouths and through regular use they become weakened or often more tooth breaks away from next to the filling to the point that your dentist may recommend that a crown be placed on the tooth to restore its strength or to help improve its appearance.
As our teeth age they begin to yellow. This is because the nice white outer layer of tooth (enamel) gets thinner through brushing and eating and the second more yellow layer (dentine) begins to shine through making our teeth look darker and more yellow. Whitening teeth can help to whiten and lighten teeth to provide a more youthful appearance.