Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Dental Changes That Occur When We Age - Don't Worry, They're All Normal!

When you think of "aging", what first comes to your mind? You would probably say wrinkles, sagging of muscles, loss of that youthful glow etc. Most of us are afraid of aging because of the physical aspect and because of the fact that we are little by little deteriorating. However, the hard truth is that we really cannot escape aging. We are all programmed to age. Cosmetics can only improve a part of it, but most of it are irreversible.

Aging is not something that is concentrated on one part of our body, say our face, or our arms. Aging is something systemic, meaning, it affects the whole of us. The good thing is, the signs of aging do not appear overnight. So if you are young and you still have that youthful glow, then you really have to try your best to maintain that glow and try to improve it as much as you can.

Similarly, there are also physiologic changes that we usually notice with our teeth and our mouth. Here are the changes inside the mouth that are commonly associated with the elderly:

1. One of the most common things that we observe with the elderly is they are either missing a teeth or two or the whole set of teeth. This is a normal, physiologic sign of aging. What happens here is that there is gingival recession wherein the soft tissues whose main function is to hold your teeth in place losses its tight connection with your tooth. Similarly, there is also bone loss. Again, this is another physiologic phenomenon associated with aging.

2. Saliva is decreased. Our saliva contributes to making our food more palatable and tasty. Thus if there is a decreased production of saliva, chances are you won't be able to taste your food or you won't be able to enjoy it.
So this is probably one of the reasons why our grandparents often complain with the taste of the food they eat.
Saliva is also responsible for the flushing of the bacteria that are inside your mouth. So, a decreased amount of saliva would result to bad breath, given that your grandma or grandpa has teeth. The decreased in the production of saliva is because of the deteriorating salivary glands, which is again, all part of aging.

3. Less sensitivity to taste. I have already mentioned that a decrease in the amount of saliva would result to less sensitivity of taste. But in general, there is less sensitivity because the taste buds, which are located in your mouth, also deteriorate. This is probably the primary reason for this. However, secondary reasons, such as decreased saliva production (as mentioned earlier), and dentures also play a role in lessening your sensation for taste.

There are a lot of changes that are associated with aging that we just have to accept. Probably the most effective way of sort of maintaining that youthfulness in us is to enjoy whatever we have at the moment and try to cherish everything else. When we talk about the changes in our teeth, although most of these changes are unavoidable, the best thing we could do is to take care of it because sooner or later, we won't have any choice but to adjust to the consequences of not having one.

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