Published on October 7, 2017, Updated on October 7, 2017
Many patients think that their permanent teeth will simply get worse as you age no matter what they do. However, aging teeth can also be healthy teeth. In fact, the American Dental Association tells us that you can keep your teeth throughout your lifetime if they are cared for properly. There are basic cleaning guidelines for good oral health for a reason. Those guidelines ensure your mouth, teeth, and gums stay healthy for decades. How do you achieve this goal? Are you keeping your mouth healthy enough? Find out what happens to your teeth as you age and keep aging teeth healthy for years to come!
You will have two sets of teeth during your lifetime: the baby teeth and your permanent teeth. Patients will generally lose their baby teeth before the teenage years. A baby will receive their first tooth between 6-12 months of age. After those first incisors come in, babies will start to receive their canine teeth and their first and second molars between their first and second birthdays. However, some children don’t have all of their teeth until they are around 3 years old. Each child is different, but we do know that children will have a total of 10 teeth in the upper and lower jaw (which equals 20 teeth total).
The American Dental Association tells us that the teeth typically fall out in the order in which they appeared in the mouth. The first teeth to go are usually the two bottom front teeth. Most kids will lose their first tooth by age 6 or 7, and will lose the last baby tooth around 12 or 13 years of age. When baby teeth are lost, permanent teeth grow in their place. Even though each patient will lose their baby teeth, those teeth are around for many years. They must be brushed and flossed just like the adult permanent teeth or the teeth will decay and a child will have tooth pain and complications with their oral health.
You can keep your adult teeth fairly healthy for many decades. Most people have their adult teeth by the time they are teenagers. This is also a popular time for many to seek out orthodontic care via braces to straighten the teeth. Some children receive orthodontic care between ages 7 and 8 if bite and alignment problems are present. This allows the permanent teeth to grow into proper place in the mouth. A child’s 20 teeth will end up turning into 32 permanent teeth (in the average adult mouth). A child’s jaw continually grows and the teeth are more spaced out to make room for the permanent teeth to come into the mouth.
The adult years are the most common years for tooth decay (cavities) and gum disease to occur. Tooth decay is the most prevalent chronic disease in children and adults. Most patients get cavities during their adolescent and adult years, even though cavities are avoidable. Keep your teeth healthy during this time by proper brushing, flossing, and dental visits. The better the care you take of your teeth, the longer they will last you as they age.
Getting older doesn’t mean that you have to lose your teeth. Many senior citizens have dentures, however, there are also many senior citizens that have many of their natural teeth. It all depends on your genes and how well you take care of your teeth. The Huffington Post reports that more people over 50 are keeping their teeth than any of the previous decades. However, tooth decay and gum disease are still some of the biggest problems for adults, and the ones that lead to tooth loss.
Your mouth goes through many changes through the years. As people age, their taste buds become less sensitive. This can make their sense of taste weaker or even nonexistent. The teeth also become worn over time and can even change colors. This change to a more yellow color is the dentin (part of the inside of the tooth) showing through the enamel. This is normal for people as they age and there are whitening options available for people to brighten their teeth. However, as the tooth enamel wears away, tooth decay and gum disease are much easier to get, which is a major cause of tooth loss in the elderly. The teeth can also move, making them harder to clean, which also contributes to these problems.
As you age, your teeth tend to shift. You may have enjoyed decades of straight teeth, but all of the sudden you notice your smile becoming more and more crooked. Shifting teeth are normal, but it doesn’t have to happen if you see an orthodontist for care. Millions of people each year (4.5 million to be exact) receive orthodontic care in the form of braces. As people age, they have a much higher chance of keeping their teeth straight if they consistently wear retainers after their time with braces. Even if decades have past, a patient can receive spacers, braces, retainers, or more to keep their smile straight.
There are many other changes your permanent teeth go through as you age. Good oral hygiene practices are still the best methods to prevent problems with your teeth and mouth through the years. Brushing and flossing the teeth are known as the “basics” of dental care because they help prevent tooth decay and gum disease for aging permanent teeth. Sometimes genetics determines your oral health, but a large part is how you care for your teeth. Come see us often to keep you and your family’s teeth healthy and strong no matter your age. To schedule your appointment or to learn more, call Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics today at (720) 887-6003!