Keep Your Teeth as You Age

by Cheryl Watson-Lowry, DDS

Americans are living longer than ever before – the average life span is now 78.8 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control. As you grow older, you want to make sure your teeth grow old with you, so you can enjoy delicious foods and continue to flash that beautiful and healthy smile.

As practicing dentists, we're seeing more cases of cavities, enamel erosion and teeth grinding. Acids in the foods and beverages we consume can cause erosion of the enamel on your teeth – that's especially true for sugary foods, candies and beverages – such as sodas, fruit juices, popular energy drinks and flavored coffees and teas.

Sparkling water, and surprisingly, even bottled water, can also be acidic and contribute to the chemical wear of your teeth. Plus, our increasingly stressful lifestyles may be causing many to grind their teeth, causing physical wear on them.

Here are five things you can do to keep your teeth healthy and strong as you grow older

  1. Maintain an overall healthy diet, and cut down the amount of sugary and acidic drinks, especially if you're constantly sipping on them throughout the day.
  2. Drink less bottled water and more tap water. Many bottled and sparkling waters contain acid, which leads to erosion. Tap water contains fluoride and other minerals that help prevent cavities and are good for your teeth, as well as your overall health.
  3. Chew sugarless gum – it activates your saliva, which helps neutralize acids in your mouth. Also, cut down on chewing peppermints, breath fresheners and cough drops throughout the day, as these can cause difficult-to-detect cavities between back teeth.
  4. Find ways to minimize teeth grinding by reducing stress and getting a restful sleep. Regular exercise and meditation can help. If you're grinding your teeth while sleeping, talk to your Chicago Dental Society member dentist about getting fitted for a mouth guard to wear at night.
  5. See your Chicago Dental Society member dentist twice per year for a complete checkup and oral cancer screening. 

Dr. Watson-Lowry practices dentistry in Chicago and is the 2018 Chicago Dental Society president-elect