Teeth can go from pearly white to not so pearly white in a relatively short space of time. Like any part of the body, teeth age over time thanks to general wear and tear, and the speed at which they age can also be affected by lifestyle, diet and general health maintenance.
The aging process is inevitable, but you can certainly slow it down by taking steps to look after your teeth naturally or give your smile a makeover by having cosmetic dentistry.
What Are the Causes of Aging Teeth?
Wear and Tear
Consider how much your mouth goes through every day - the chewing, grinding, and gnashing. This all means the outer layer of enamel, which exists to protect your teeth and nerves, gradually wears away. This process can be hastened by exposure to acidic foods and drinks, like citrus fruits and carbonated liquid.
If you don't treat it, gum disease could lead to damaged gums and bones and even tooth loss (it's is by far and away the biggest cause). It's caused by failing to clean the plaque off the surface of the teeth, which is a delightful combination of food and bacteria. Signs of gum disease include bleeding when brushing, receding gums, loose teeth, and bad breath.
You may notice your teeth become yellower or darker over time, and this is perfectly normal. Many things contribute to this, including decay, regular tea and coffee consumption, and smoking. The surface of the tooth can also develop very small cracks which can become stains.
Lack of Saliva
The older you get, the drier your mouth becomes, but a lack of saliva actually increases your chance of tooth decay. This is because saliva helps keep your teeth clean and protects it from disease.
How to Keep Your Teeth Looking Healthier for Longer
You can choose the natural route, cosmetic dentistry, or both.
● As always, follow the advice you've heard for years: drink plenty of water, brush twice daily for two minutes, ideally with an electric toothbrush, floss, and use mouthwash.
● See a dentist every six months for a check-up, particularly if you show any of the signs of gum disease.
● Have a professional clean twice a year if you notice your teeth aging faster.
● Choose dental hygiene products like toothpaste that suit you (your dentist can help guide you towards the right ones).
● Have any fillings, veneers, or crowns, checked regularly as they won't last forever.
● If you grind your teeth in your sleep, consider getting a night guard.
● Professional bleaching treatments can help remove stains and restore natural whiteness. We wouldn't advise over the counter DIY bleaching kits because they contain a weaker concentration of hydrogen peroxide (the bleaching agent) than dentists can provide, and this can considerably compromise results.
● Porcelain crowns are ideal if you have chipped or cracked teeth and want to recover a more youthful smile.
● Porcelain veneers will give you the total smile makeover - Hollywood anyone?
● Dental implants or dentures can be used to replace missing teeth and keep the smile looking natural.