Aging is a physiological process in which the structure and function of all organic systems in the human body change. Aging is not just a consequence of the passage of time, but of the total effort that the human body experiences – the changes associated with old age reflect the “wear and tear” of the organism through the activities it has carried out during its life. Therefore, the concept of chronological and biological age differs: the first represents the pure physical dimension of time, while the second takes into account the biological changes that occur with aging.
Teeth wear down gradually over time: in older people, the enamel layer is flat and its surface can be uneven or cracked. The wear of the teeth is more evident on the incisors whose edges can be shortened by a few millimeters, with a yellowish shedding. When the enamel is completely worn, it is possible to see a yellow-brown dentin core on the edges of the incisor. Although the exposed dentin in young people is sensitive to thermal, chemical and mechanical stimuli, in the elderly the dentin tubules close and the sensitivity disappears. Cracks often occur in the enamel due to various functional stresses that the teeth have undergone throughout their life. Cracks are visible as straight lines along the teeth that differently refract light from the surrounding enamel. They most often occur in people with strong chewing muscles, who chew hard food, or in people whose orthodontic abnormalities disrupt the transmission and distribution of force to the teeth. The appearance of such cracks in old age is normal and symptom-free, and therapy is unnecessary.
With aging, teeth become darker. There are several causes of discoloration and one of these is tooth wear. With wear, the enamel layer becomes thinner and the yellowish color of the dentin becomes more visible. In addition, various colored compounds of foods and drinks that contribute to the darkening of the teeth are deposited in the hard dental tissues during life. The dentin itself undergoes structural changes, delaying the additional amounts of dentin that occur throughout life, the tubules become thinner and the dentin denser and more intensely colored. The possible appearance of caries and fillings of different materials further contributes to the discoloration. Depending on the cause of the discoloration, a lighter shade of the teeth can be achieved by sandblasting, whitening or replacing old fillings in consultation with your dentist.
The permeability of dentin gradually decreases over the course of life, which makes the teeth sensitive to stimuli. Thus, the painful sensations that previously occurred due to various damage to the teeth (for example, damage to the tooth neck area or worn roots) gradually subside and eventually cease completely. With aging and the onset of periodontal disease, the gum is exposed from the level of the dental neck in the direction of the root. Periodontal disease causes bone loss and thus accelerates gingival retreat, and tooth extensions without periodontal disease can occur in older people. With the withdrawal of the gum, part of the tooth root is exposed to the oral cavity. Since the root lacks a protective enamel sheath (the root is only covered with a thin layer of cement under the dentin), this part of the tooth becomes sensitive to the development of caries. It is also susceptible to rough brushing, which can cause defects in exposed roots. Therefore, with the occurrence of “tooth extension”, it is necessary to perform thorough oral hygiene to prevent the development of root caries by avoiding hard toothbrushes and rough brushing so as not to damage the exposed roots.
In the end, no matter what age you are right, dental maintenance is the best way to keep your teeth in their best possible condition today and in the future. Call Angel Dental in El Monte today for your new year dental cleaning. Call us for an appointment (626) 444-2002.