Growing old is marked by several changes, one of these being a loss of teeth. But there are people who reach old age with all of their original teeth still intact so it is by no means automatic.
If you have looked after your teeth all of your life then you will have a greater chance of retaining these teeth even into your later years than someone who has neglected theirs.
Many people lose teeth for any number of reasons such as an accident or injury although in most cases tooth decay and/or gum disease is the main reason.
Another reason is a weakening of the muscles and skin around the jaw which is due to a decrease in elasticity. This is responsible for the development of lines and wrinkles which are unfortunately, another aspect of growing older. Plus they look unattractive as well.
Then there is the fact that our teeth, like any other part of our body are subject to wear and tear. They undergo a great deal of stress and strain and this starts to show after a period of time.
This is why it is important to maintain a good dental care routine and visit your dentist on a regular basis.
Dangers of tooth loss in older people
Wearing dentures is a feature of getting older. Many older people wear dentures as a replacement for their missing teeth. This is important as they help to maintain the shape of the jaw and prevent what is known as bone re-absorption.
Bone re-absorption is where there is a loss of bone density in the jaw due to the loss of a tooth. The teeth on either side of the resulting gap start to drift inwards which pulls the other teeth out of alignment. This only worsens the situation.
So, it is important that any missing teeth are replaced sooner rather than later to prevent this from happening.
Another problem is eating: if you are missing a few teeth then it becomes difficult to chew food properly. What often happens is that you tend to swallow large pieces instead of breaking them down which then puts a strain on the digestive system. This leads to indigestion or other similar complaints.
As a result of this some older people reduce the amount they eat which is potentially harmful. The drop in calories means that they are not ingesting essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients which are vital for good health. This is particularly important for older people whose bodies tend to function less well than a younger person.
This is another good reason to replace missing teeth.
Dentures are a popular form of replacement teeth but consider other options such as a dental bridge or dental implants. All of these are discussed further within this guide.