“You have a choice,” said the dentist with a big, white smile. “Either you go for implants or your face will slowly collapse, your jaw will jut forward Neanderthal-style and you will never eat steak again.”
The patient reached deep into her pocket, and chose the implants.
The spectre of the chomping older person who has forgotten to put their teeth in is a social archetype many of us grew up with, but dentistry has advanced since then, and having one’s dentures in a glass as a night companion is no longer our inevitable fate. However, worn, grey or crooked teeth can add years to our appearance – no wonder that for centuries horse traders looked at an animal’s teeth to judge its age. While most people over 65 still have some of their natural teeth, they unsurprisingly suffer from more decay, gum disease and mouth infections than any other group. Receding gums, wobbly teeth and deterioration of the jaw bone make matters worse, and bacteria from poor dental hygiene affect the rest of our bodies, having been linked to diabetes, stroke, respiratory disease and heart attacks.
Stress often leads to teeth grinding and often we aren’t even aware we are doing it; a lot of pressure will be placed on the back teeth which can cause jaw pain, ear ache and increased tooth sensitivity.
If we haven’t flossed before, now is the time to start adding it to our twice-daily brushing regime, preferably with an electric toothbrush, with the use of mouthwash to disinfect. If the teeth are too far gone, implants can give your mouth a truly amazing new lease of life, so they are well worth the investment. Veneers will bring back that Hollywood smile, though they involve grinding down the original teeth and placing porcelain jackets over them. For a less radical solution we can regularly whiten our teeth using the many methods available through dentists and chemists, including wearing gum shield-like trays at night containing a bleaching agent or laser treatment which activates the chemicals, though not everyone gets teeth the colour of snow.
Conclusion : protecting our mouths from ageing will protect the rest of us too.
Photo Credit: Conor Lawless via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: N A I T via Compfight cc