Dupont Dental - Your Washington DC Dentist


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dental appliance for jaw alignment

Help for Jaw Alignment Problems with a Dental Appliance

Your body’s joints are aligned in a certain way to facilitate ease of movement and functionality. Your jaw is a large joint that allows you to bite, chew, swallow, yawn, speak, shout, smile, sing and much more. For those who suffer from jaw alignment issues, these functions are hindered, and accompanying pain may be present.

The Dangers of Jaw Misalignment

If you have jaw misalignment, it’s important that you have it professionally treated as soon as possible. Dupont Dental Associates in Washington can help with diagnosing and treating jaw misalignment. The dangers of not seeking treatment for jaw misalignment include worsening conditions that can lead to the necessity for more serious, invasive treatments, including surgery. Other potential ramifications of not getting treatment for jaw misalignment is teeth loss, gum disease, incorrect health diagnosis, and others. Following is information about identifying jaw misalignment issues, and available treatment with a non-invasive dental appliance for jaw alignment.

How to Tell if You Have Jaw Alignment Issues

Jaw misalignment is more common than you think, but the symptoms may not always be obvious. Here are some of the signs to look out for:

  • Teeth do not line up properly
  • Teeth have shifted
  • Pain or tenderness when biting or chewing
  • Inability to open mouth wide
  • Pain or tenderness when speaking for long periods of time
  • Slurred or hindered speech
  • Noticeable jaw discomfort when sleeping in certain positions
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Frequent, unexplained headaches ranging from mild to severe
  • Neck and base of the skull pain or tenderness
  • Decrease in range of head turning from side to side or up and down

Non-Invasive Treatment Option for Jaw Alignment issues

Don’t hesitate to contact Dupont Dental if you suspect that you may have a jaw alignment issues. If detected early enough, your treatment may consist of a simple, non-invasive treatment option for jaw alignment issues. This dental appliance is a specially-fitted device that subtly and gently helps to make minor adjustments in the way your jaw lines up. The device can be worn in the privacy of your home and is completely removable and insertable by you without any assistance. Over time, this dental appliance for jaw alignment can help to bring your jaw back into alignment and alleviate many or all of the above symptoms you may have been experiencing due to your jaw misalignment issues.

The Benefits of a Dental Appliance for Jaw Alignment Issues

The benefits of this non-invasive dental appliance for jaw misalignment include a restoration of your biting and chewing abilities. It’s likely that you may be able to return to your normal culinary habits after use of the dental appliance. Your teeth and gums will be in better shape because you’ll be able to care for them without discomfort. Once the jaw alignment is properly treated by Dupont Dental, any headaches caused by the jaw alignment issue will be mitigated or disappear entirely. Essentially, you’ll have your life back.

While noticing something at home is helpful, it’s crucial to get a professional diagnosis and proper treatment. If you notice any or all of the signs of a misaligned jaw, make an appointment right away with Dupont Dental in Washington.

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how long composite fillings last

How Long Does a Composite Filling Last?

Composite fillings — also known as dental fillings or simply as fillings — are designed to replace the portion of your tooth’s structure that has been lost because of decay. If you’re like many patients, you think that having a filling is a permanent solution to this problem. While fillings can last for a long time — for years in many cases — they will likely need to be replaced at some point.

Reasons a Filling Might Become Compromised

Like your natural teeth, any fillings that you have undergo a constant assault just from the normal actions that you put them through each day. Other factors that can place stress on a composite filling include grinding your teeth or clenching them. Injury, such as a fall, can also compromise the integrity of a filling.

What Happens to a Filling Over Time

If you have a filling that has started to wear away or that have fallen out, there are likely to be gaps in between the place where the filling was and your teeth. In some cases, you might be able to see these gaps, but in others, you won’t be able to identify them visually. Fillings that are chipped and cracked could also leave these gaps behind. Particles of food and other substances can work their way into these gaps and introduce bacteria. This bacteria, in turn, can lead to decay.

Bacteria and the Unique Problems it Poses

Because of their size, location and other factors, the bacteria that is often introduced into these gaps left by a filling that has often been compromised cannot be removed easily by you. Even if you are diligent about flossing, brushing and rinsing on a daily basis, it can be an almost impossible feat to remove these bacteria.

This can lead to decay that develops underneath a filling or along its edge. If this decay is not properly diagnosed and is left untreated, it can begin to affect the dental pulp of the tooth. This dental pulp contains both the tooth’s blood supply and its nerves. If the dental pulp is affected, a root canal is often necessary. In advanced cases, the tooth might need to be pulled.

Composite Filling Care 101

Once your dentist fills a tooth for you, it’s important to maintain regular dental checkups. During these appointments, your dentist will closely examine any existing fillings to detect any issues as early as possible.

Dental Tools That Help Spot Filling Issues

Using specialized dental equipment, such as an explorer, your dentist gently searches for any worn spots or other issues with your fillings. Dental x-rays provide another method of determining if there is any decay between your fillings or teeth. These signs often aren’t able to be detected during an examination. Any evidence of decay around the filling or a filling that has failed requires that it be replaced immediately.

Regular dental visits help you and your dental team catch any issues with your fillings early. This early detection can help lessen any pain associated with the tooth and could even save it.

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tooth filling material

Tooth Filling Material

If your dentist detects cavities in your teeth, one of the dental treatments that may be suggested may include having the rotten part of the tooth removed and then the vacated area filled with a dental material called tooth fillings.

There are different types of tooth filling materials that are available to help restore your teeth. Each one has advantages and disadvantages and differs from the other types of materials concerning aesthetics, durability, expense, and strength. The type of tooth filling material your dentist may recommend will depend on these factors in addition to which of your teeth have to be treated and the type of damage that has to be repaired.

Types of Tooth Filling Materials

Composite Resin Fillings

Composite resins are made of a combination of finely ground glass particles and plastic and can last you for at least five years. Because they can be matched to the exact hue of your teeth, they are ideal for front teeth, any visible portion of a tooth that requires small or large fillings and inlays. They can be bonded directly onto your teeth making the tooth stronger than it would be with other types of fillings. Depending on whether you require direct or indirect filings, having composite resin fillings installed may take more than one visit to the dentist office.

Gold Fillings

Gold fillings are one of the more expensive types of fillings; however, they are highly durable, do not corrode and can last at least 15 years. They are made of primarily gold and a mixture of other metals. Gold fillings are used for crowns, onlays, and inlays and having them installed requires at least two visits to the dentist office.

Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam fillings silver-toned fillings that are composed of almost 50 percent of mercury with the remaining portions comprised of a mixture of other metals, including tin, copper, silver, and tin. These non-bonded and durable fillings can be used to restore your back teeth and can last for more than ten years. However, they cannot be color-matched to your teeth and tend to corrode with time, resulting in discoloration in the areas where your tooth is in contact with the filling.

Ceramics Fillings

Usually composed of porcelain, ceramic fillings are used to restore veneers, crowns, inlays, onlays, orthodontic brackets, and implants. They are made to have the same coloring as teeth and can last you for over seven years. If it is necessary for you to have a ceramic inlay or onlay, the affected tooth will have to be reduced in size to make the filling sizable enough so that it will not break.

Glass Ionomer Fillings

This type of filling is composed of acrylic and fluoroaluminosilicate, a material used to make glass. Glass ionomer fillings may be recommended if you have decaying tooth material in your front teeth or below your gum line in the roots of your teeth. The fillings release fluoride, which can make the tooth stronger and more resistant to further decay. They can last you for at least five years but are weaker than composite resin fillings.

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scaling and root planing effectiveness

Taking Advantage of Scaling and Root Planing Effectiveness

Dentists conduct root planing and scaling procedures to treat cases of gum disease before it can do significant damage to your oral health. Take a few minutes to learn why scaling and root planing is such an effective dental treatment.

What is Scaling and Root Planing?

Scaling and root planing is essentially the deep cleaning of the area below the gum line to combat gum disease. Your dentist may recommend the procedure if your mouth shows early indications of gum disease.

What to Expect

Your dentist or dental hygienist may perform the cleaning. Depending on the condition of your mouth, it may take multiple visits to the dentist office for the procedure to be completed. During the scaling part of the cleaning, all of the traces of tartar, plaque, and bacterial toxins will be scaled from surfaces of your teeth and their roots. During the root planing portion of the procedure, the rough areas on the roots’ surfaces will be carefully smoothed away to make it more difficult for plaque, tartar, and bacteria to attach themselves beneath the gum line. This also allows the gums to reattach to the roots more firmly.

Is Root Planing Necessary?

Gums that are healthy will fit snugly around your teeth. However, if substances like bacteria, plaque and tartar are allowed to accumulate under and around your gums, they can damage the tissues supporting your teeth, creating pockets around your teeth and an environment where gum disease can develop.

Scaling and root planing is the most effective non-surgical procedure a dentist can use to treat gum disease. If the disease is detected while it is in its early stages and has not yet damaged the structures below the gum line, a simple professional cleaning will suffice. However, if the pockets between your teeth and gums have grown too deep, a scaling and root planing will be necessary. According to a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, the deep cleaning is particularly useful to patients who suffer from chronic periodontitis, or gum disease that has advanced past the gingivitis stage.

Your dentist may recommend that you undergo a scaling and root planing if either of the following conditions exists:

  • Your gums have begun to pull away from the teeth.
  • There is tartar present on the roots of your teeth.

Scaling and Root Planing Before And After

You will see and feel a marked difference in the conditions of your gums after you have undergone the procedure. The area that was treated may be sore to the touch for almost a week. Depending on how extensive the treatment was and the location in the mouth where the procedure was conducted, you may also experience bleeding, swelling and discomfort.

During a follow-up visit, your dentist will examine your gums to determine whether they are healing as they should be and will evaluate the condition of the pockets near the roots. If the pockets are getting smaller and the gum tissue has returned to pinkish color is adhering firmly to the roots of your teeth, no additional treatment may be necessary.

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invisalign pros cons

Understanding Invisalign Pros and Cons

You may stick to your daily brushing and flossing routines throughout childhood and life as a young adult, but you can still end up with alignment issues or gaps between your teeth once your teeth settle into their permanent positions. While children and tweens often require the specific benefits provided by traditional braces, Invisalign is often a better option for older teens and young adults. Decide between braces and Invisalign only after understanding the pros and cons of the modern treatment. Keep reading for the Invisalign pros and cons.

Does Invisalign Work Faster than Braces?

In most cases, using a set of custom fitted Invisalign retainers will result in faster alignment improvements than you can get from traditional metal or clear braces. However, there is a caveat to this benefit. Invisalign treatments are somewhat more limited in how much adjustment is possible, while traditional braces can do a surprising amount of alignment changes over the course of three to five years. If you only want straighter teeth or a little less crowding among your pre-molars, Invisalign is the faster option if you’re concerned about how long you’ll need to deal with the mild discomfort of reshaping your bite pattern, which is less uncomfortable than the discomfort of traditional braces.

How Long Does Invisalign Take?

Traditional braces may need to remain in place for up to five years, and take a bare minimum of two years to achieve even basic improvements. In contrast, Invisalign makes subtle improvements to your smile within the first six months of treatment. For complete re-alignment, you can often complete treatment within 18 months to two years. A shorter treatment time allows you to get a straighter smile before a big event like a wedding or a career change. The shorter timeframe is also helpful if you’re concerned about living with a few dietary restrictions and some extra oral hygiene chores for longer than a couple of years.

What Does Invisalign Look Like?

One of the main reasons older patients choose Invisalign is because it’s hard to tell you’re wearing the nearly invisible treatment trays. They can be removed when you’re eating or brushing your teeth, allowing you to remove food residue without having to fight with your braces or deal with specialty picks and brushes. You can take your treatment devices off for up to six hours a day if your dentist approves it, giving you a break from the slight pressure required to reshape your smile.

Invisalign Problems

Not all Invisalign treatments are as removable as you might think. When advanced alignment changes are needed, the treatment retainers are attached to a few of the teeth with a non-permanent oral cement. You may also find that the trays are less than invisible if you wear them while drinking dark sodas, coffee, wine, and other staining drinks. Additionally, some people prefer not to take a retainer out and clean it before re-inserting it every time they want to enjoy food or drink. Braces come with more restrictions on what you can eat while wearing them, but they stay in place while you eat and don’t require the extra effort for removal and replacement.

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bad breath after brushing

What Causes Bad Breath Even After Brushing?

With an estimated 80 million people experiencing bad breath on a regular basis, there’s a lot of myths that abound about why your mouth becomes so odorous. Understanding the true causes of recurring bad breath, especially a smell that lingers after brushing, is the only way to tackle the problem truly. Get your breath smelling better without expensive rinses and mints by finding the cause.

Sinus Infections

A low grade and chronic sinus infection are one of the most surprising and common causes of serious bad breath. Even a little infection lingering in the cavernous spaces behind your nose, eyes, and mouth can result in a very offensive odor. You may have little to no outward symptoms, or confuse your sniffles and stuffiness for allergies, allowing the infection to worsen over time. A dentist can help you determine if this is the reason your bad breath is unabated by brushing.

Lack of Flossing

You brush twice a day, but do you remember to floss every day? It can be a little uncomfortable, but finding a method that is comfortable for you is necessary for fresh breath. Brushing leaves behind food particles that rot and feed bacteria, leading to stink producing colonies hidden between the teeth where the brush can’t touch them. Choose a flossing method you can live with if you want to enjoy fresh breath throughout the day.

Halitosis

For some people, bad breath is a hereditary condition that requires regular treatment from their dentist. The term halitosis refers to bad breath in general, but as a diagnosis, it is considered its own condition. Some people experience chronic halitosis because they make an insufficient amount of saliva. They may not feel like their mouth is dry, but a lack of saliva allows bacteria levels to rise. This results in the bad breath that doesn’t respond to over the counter treatments and threatens the health of your teeth and gums as well.

Coffee Drinking

Too many people overlook their coffee and smoking habits when wondering why they’re experiencing chronic bad breath. Even if you routine brush or rinse your mouth after every espresso or cigarette break, the long term effects of smoke inhalation and high acid content contribute to halitosis regardless. Breaking these habits, or at least switching them for healthier alternatives, will reward you with better breath all day long in addition to the rest of the health benefits.

Plaque Deposits

Skipping your routine cleaning visits at the dentist does more than just raise your risk of getting a cavity. Going too long between cleanings allows tartar to harden into plaque. Plaque is an ideal host for the bacteria that produce the sulfur compounds that make other people find your breath unpleasant. Routine cleanings remove the plaque, so your brushing efforts work to sweep out the bacteria gathering at the gum lines. As a result, you’ll also help avoid gingivitis and advanced gum disease. Resistant bad breath is one of the earliest signs of gum disease, so visit your dentist for a checkup any time you notice an odor returning as soon as you’re done brushing your teeth.

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tooth extraction healing time

What is the Normal Tooth Extraction Healing Time?

Having a tooth extracted is never exactly a joyful occasion, but if it ends a long period of pain or discomfort, it can be a welcome procedure. Since your dentist will use local or general anesthesia, so you don’t feel any pain during the extraction, it’s much more likely that you’ll face an issue during recovery instead. Understanding the timeline of healing after a tooth extraction will prepare you for the process and alert you when something isn’t going to plan.

Size and Complexity

First, understand that every mouth and tooth is different so that healing can go faster or slower depending on factors out of your control. A surgical extraction takes longer to heal than a simple one, and a large molar or wisdom tooth leaves a bigger wound than a small baby tooth. In general, extraction sites tend to close up within one to two weeks, and complete healing is usually achieved by the end of a month.

First Day

The first 24 hours after an extraction usually involves enough discomfort and swelling you’ll need to rest from your usual activities. For surgical extractions, your dentist may extend this rest period to 48 or 72 hours. You should develop a strong blood clot by the end of the first day and experience little to no more bleeding. If you still have heavy bleeding, you’ll need to talk to your dentist.

First Week

Any stitches or sutures used during the extraction will usually start loosening or dissolving by the end of the first week. Oral tissue heals rapidly, so if you’ve reached the middle of the first week and are still having intermittent bleeding or don’t see signs of the site closing up, discuss your concerns with your dentist. Prompt action at the first sign of sluggish healing can prevent a painful and difficult to treat infection and bone damage.

Second Week

While large openings may still be visible by the end of the second week, you should be on the road to recovery and have little to no dry socket risks at this point. The color of the gum tissue should be stabilizing, with very little to no red wound visible at this point. You may still experience some tenderness and swelling, especially if stitches remained in place through the second week. Continue to check the gum area daily in the mirror until you no longer see any signs of the extraction sites. A visual inspection helps you decide if a little soreness is normal or linked to a deeper problem.

Indention

Many dental patients worry the weeks after an extraction because an indention may remain in the gum tissue for quite some time. Unless you can see an opening into the gum tissue below, even a deep indention is normal because the tissue takes some time to fill in the area where the tooth and root once sat. Of course, it’s always a good idea to have your doctor do a quick inspection if you’re experiencing soreness.

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childhood tooth decay

Childhood Tooth Decay: Getting to the Root of the Issue

It’s widely assumed that young children don’t need to go to the dentist because they will be losing their baby teeth anyway. However, childhood tooth decay can start even before the first teeth have fully come in. Once tooth decay has set in, it can make your child’s permanent teeth more susceptible to tooth decay.

What Causes Tooth Decay in Children?

The same sugary sweets and drinks that cause tooth decay in adults can lead to tooth decay in children as young as toddlers. Since children are typically eating and drinking a lot more sugary things than adults, their chances of developing tooth decay are heightened. Some surprising things that contain excess sugar include:

  • Fruit juices (even natural juices with no added sugar)
  • Flavored water
  • Formula
  • Processed baby food
  • Toddler biscuits, crackers, and cookies

So, the first line of defense against childhood tooth decay is to limit sweetened drinks and food.

A Scientific Development Against Childhood Tooth Decay

Recently, a new scientific development was made with insights into the causes of childhood tooth decay. Bacteria have long been recognized as a cause of tooth decay. But in recent findings at the University of Pennsylvania, another culprit has been found. Candida albicans, a fungus, has been shown to interact with bacteria in the mouth to form a biofilm on the surface of the teeth. Essentially, the bacterial yeast is utilized by the fungus as a way to form a molecular bond that attaches itself to the tooth surface.

While this sounds alarming, it’s simply one more way that childhood tooth decay can take hold in the early years. The good news is that those same researchers are working on developing a means by which the bond can’t take place. Without the yeast, the fungus can’t form that biofilm that causes tooth decay and vice versa. Current methods of bacteria control include the use of fluoride in water, toothpaste, and mouthwashes. However, bacteria quickly multiply, and the oral cavity can be re-infected with bacteria quite readily. While oral bacteria is difficult to control without severe curtailment of sugary foods and drinks, the fungus can be targeted instead. The researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are working hard to develop methodologies that will target the fungi rather than the bacteria. Before coming to market, they will, of course, need to go through clinical trials.

How Can Parents Help Avoid Childhood Tooth Decay?

Left untreated, childhood tooth decay can become so severe that medical intervention is required, often in the form of oral surgery. While science is working on new ways to prevent and treat childhood tooth decay, it’s important for parents to work with dentists in Washington D.C. to avoid childhood tooth decay at home. Here are some suggestions:

  • Offer water instead of fruit juices for hydration.
  • Avoid offering lemon or lime flavored water, which can lead to tooth enamel erosion.
  • Wean youngsters off pacifiers as soon as reasonably possible.
  • Avoid offering candies and sweet pastries as much as possible.
  • Teach, encourage and monitor safe tooth brushing techniques.

Please call us today to schedule a dentist appointment for your child. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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baby oral health

How Early Should You Consider Your Baby’s Oral Health Care?

From the moment parents learn they are expecting a baby, they embark on a whirlwind of preparation. In addition to the shopping for baby furniture and clothing, parents also “shop” for a pediatrician and plan for well baby checkups. While every aspect of a new baby is researched and planned, the issue of when to consider oral health can be confusing. In fact, many parents do not even think about oral care until teething begins, but a baby can benefit from oral care even before birth.

Oral health begins in the womb

The problem with not considering oral health care until Baby sprouts his first tooth is that the tooth was already formed months ago. The circumstances surrounding the formation of teeth while the baby is the in the womb can play a big role in oral care later. Toronto’s International Association for Dental Research published a study linking a pregnant mother’s intake of vitamin D during pregnancy to the oral health of the baby. The study found that mothers who were deficient in vitamin D during the teeth formation phase were more likely to have children with tooth enamel defects. With that in mind, the very first step towards taking care of your child’s teeth is to eat a well-balanced diet and consistently take a high-quality prenatal vitamin.

Oral care from birth to six months

Although a baby’s first tooth doesn’t emerge until around six months of age, it is still important to clean your baby’s mouth. However, you won’t need a brush at first. Simply take a clean, damp washcloth and wipe your baby’s gums. While this gentle cleansing can be done daily, take care to avoid excessive pressure. Wiping down the gums will help to clean the mouth and remove bacteria.

Once teething begins, your baby’s gums are likely to become inflamed, more red, and sensitive to the touch. Offering your baby a chilled teether is one way to soothe those tender gums.

How to care for baby’s first tooth

Even when your baby’s first tooth pops in, you can trade in the washcloth or gum cleaning brush for a children’s toothbrush. The optimal brush for an infant is a soft-bristled brush with a small head. As many children’s sizes are available, be sure to check the suggested age on the package and choose accordingly. Even a brush meant for an older child can be too big for an infant’s small mouth.

  • Use a training toothpaste: these pastes do not contain fluoride and are often in children-friendly flavors like berry or bubblegum
  • Apply a thin smear of toothpaste and gently brush the tooth and the gums.
  • Brush twice each day to instill good habits.
  • Avoid sugary foods and drinks, including undiluted juice.

When to schedule a baby’s first dentist appointment

Most dentists recommend scheduling a child’s first dentist appointment after his/her first tooth comes in, usually around six months of age. This is important as preventative care can help manage any potential problems promptly. Please note that Dupont Dental does not see children until they are three years old because this is the age when children can typically fully understand and cooperate. We always recommend seeing a pediatric dentist if your child needs to be seen sooner. If you need to have additional questions, feel free to call us at 202.296.7714 or email us at dupontdental@gmail.com.

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aging affects oral health

How Aging Affects Your Oral Health

Aging is more than just wrinkles and gray hair. Every part of the body changes with aging, and the teeth and mouth are not exempt. Aging affects your oral health in many ways, and learning about these changes will help you regain control of your oral health at any age.

Dry mouth

Dry mouth also called xerostomia, affects many seniors. Dry mouth, in which the mouth does not produce enough saliva, is more than just an uncomfortable condition; dry mouth can increase the risk of tooth decay. Dry mouth can be caused by a medical condition (such as Parkinson’s) or by medication. Unfortunately, many medications commonly used in the aging population, including blood pressure medicine, cause xerostomia. Treating the symptoms of dry mouth can help prevent the decay associated with xerostomia:

  • Drink daily recommended amount of water each day
  • Chew sugarless gum
  • Limit alcohol intake

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease, an infection in the gums, is characterized by red swollen gums that bleed during brushings. While this disease can affect anyone, seniors are more at risk for periodontal disease than any other age group. Bacteria-laden build-up often causes infections. This disease can be reduced or prevented by:

  • Brushing and flossing well to remove the buildup: consider an electric brush and pre-flossed flossers for any senior with dexterity issues
  • Reduce acidic foods and sugary food
  • Avoid smoking

If you or a loved one is at risk for periodontal disease, a good oral care routine can help keep your mouth as healthy as can be.

Problems associated with bone loss

Bone loss, particularly for women, is a frequent complaint of those already experiencing changes associated with age. It is this bone loss that leads to broken hips, but the bone loss can also profoundly affect oral health. Because the root of a tooth needs viable bone to stay firmly rooted in the mouth, bone loss can lead to loose and weakened teeth. Taking a vitamin D supplement is a good option for those who are at risk for bone loss.

Broken dental work

If you have dental work (items such as a crown or bridge), it’s only a matter of time before the piece needs to be fixed or placed. On average, dental repairs last about seven years, which means seniors are more at risk for needing a repair done ASAP. Preventative care is especially important here since dentists can check in on old repairs during regular cleanings and keep an eye out for any signs of a potential problem.

Change in color of teeth

While consuming certain foods (like berries) and drinks (like coffee) can cause staining, aging can also affect the color of your teeth. The enamel of teeth thins over time; as the enamel continues to grow thinner and thinner, the teeth take on a discolored, gray color. Unlike “vanity” stains from drinking too much coffee, a change in color due to thinning enamel is a reason to check in with your dentist: thinning enamel is more at risk for decay.

Aging doesn’t have to be fun per se, but learning how aging affects oral health can help prepare you for a future of stellar oral health.

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