A: Advancements in dentistry are allowing people to keep their teeth longer. As we grow older, changes may occur with our teeth and gums. The three main causes of problems that people have with their teeth are cavities/tooth decay, gum disease or clenching and grinding. The good news is that all three problems can be prevented.
Tooth decay is not just for children. We are at risk for decay our whole lives. Daily brushing with a fluoride toothpaste along with flossing can help combat tooth decay. If you are at higher risk for cavities, your dentist may recommend prescription products to help prevent decay. New technology in dental materials has also allowed for more conservative treatment of existing decay, leaving you with more natural tooth structure.
Periodontal (gum) disease is a chronic progressive condition that causes the loss of the gum and bone support around teeth. Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. Like heart disease, people with early periodontal disease may not have any noticeable symptoms. It is important to have your gums examined regularly so that any periodontal disease can be diagnosed and treated early.
Lastly, clenching and grinding can cause a slow process of enamel wear, which is followed by chipping, cracking and then breaking of teeth. Some patients may also have problems with their temporalmandibular joints (TMJ).
Having routine dental exams can allow for early diagnosis of problem — which means more preventative and conservative treatment that can help your teeth last a lifetime.
Information provided by Julie Smith, DDS, Johnston Dental, 5541 NW 86th St., Suite 100, Johnston, 276-2500.