Have you noticed that your teeth look different? “As you age, your teeth shift and you lose bone, which makes your gums recede,” according to Michael Apa DDS, partner in the Rosenthal Apa Group in New York City. You’ll notice that your top teeth look shorter and the bottom teeth look longer.
If you’re stressed you may be grinding your teeth at night and this can cause flattened, fractured, or chipped teeth, worn tooth enamel, more tooth sensitivity, headache, earache, and chronic facial pain.
You may not be aware of it, but you usually favor one side of your mouth when you chew, and this builds up musculature, but the other side may look out of proportion.
Here are five tips for a healthier mouth:
Brush and Floss Regularly
You have probably heard this a thousand times, but you need to brush your teeth for at least two minutes after every meal and follow it up with a good flossing session. An electric toothbrush is recommended so you’ll brush longer and can get into those hard-to-clean spaces.
Schedule More Cleaning Appointments
I know dental treatment is not cheap, but it’s a good idea to schedule three cleanings a year instead of two. When gums recede, there is a larger area where food particles may get stuck. You also may have more plaque on your teeth, and the chance of decay increases.
Ask Dentist About Specific Problems
There are so many products on the market that it’s easy to become confused. Find out which toothpaste is best for your specific problem. You may need the best toothpaste for sensitive teeth, to remove heavy stains, or whiten the teeth. Ask if string floss is better or should you use the newer dental floss picks that are more portable and can be carried in your purse during the day.
Wear a Retainer
If you have braces, you are probably counting the days until you can have them removed. Once the braces do come off, your teeth may try to move back to their original position, so wear a retainer. As an alternate treatment, some dentists will bond a metal wire onto the backs of your upper and lower front teeth.
Use a Night Guard
Just in case you are grinding or clenching your teeth while you sleep, use a night guard. It can be fitted over one row of teeth or two depending on your needs. Your jaw muscles are more in alignment and this allows the jaw to relax, which prevents muscle spasms.