Aging- Naturally and Gracefully

When I talk to my Issaquah patients about the way their teeth look, most of them reply that they would like whiter, straighter, natural looking smiles. Many ask me what is appropriate for people their age.

In our teens and twenties, teeth are usually unworn and white.   Our smile looks youthful and full.  We have great lip support and broad smiles.  During this time, I recommend that patients have their bite evaluated. Catching bite problems early can prevent a massive amount of dentistry later in life. Some patients treat their teeth orthodontically during this time- to get straight teeth and a healthy bite. We also recommend Zoom! whitening or custom bleach trays for those patients who are noticing a lack of brightness or have a special event in their lives. Senior pictures, graduations, weddings- patients want to look their best for these happy Issaquah events. Many young people neglect their dental health during these years and diet and nutrition may be less than ideal. This can lead to an increase in cavities and the beginning of gum disease. This is the time to make sure you are getting professional cleanings and fluoride treatments. Dentist in Issaquah Dr. Fisher can discuss healthy snacking and beverages with you as well. Avoid sodas and sugared beverages and include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet whenever possible. Sonicare has recently come out with an awesome air flosser for our less than diligent flossers!

As we head into our thirties, we may notice and increase in tooth wear, gum recession and sensitivity of our teeth. In addition, the teeth might appear slightly more yellow. This is still a good decade to have your bite evaluated. Proper alignment of the teeth can prevent further gum recession and cracking of the teeth. Patients should be evaluated for tooth grinding as well. This is the decade where the stress of our lives can start to damage our teeth. Marriage, kids, careers- all wonderful but can lead to interruptions in sleep patterns and nighttime clenching and grinding. Gum recession can be caught early and prevented with orthodontic repositioning of teeth or bite guards. Fluoride varnish should be applied to sensitive roots and small cracks.

Our forties can be a time of repair and rebuilding. Many of us have large, mercury fillings that need to replaced. Some of these fillings are so large that the underlying tooth structure is damaged and weakened over time. Some of these teeth may require crowns or caps to be fitted. At this point, if you haven’t addressed your bite issues, you may be noticing increased wear, sensitivity and chipping of the teeth. Gum recession may be starting to show and the doctor may even see bone loss on your x-rays. Don’t delay- get those misaligned teeth straightened today!  Many patients are diagnosed with some form of periodontal disease at this age- talk to Jennifer about treatment options and prevention of further damage.

Congratulations in your fifties and sixties if you have healthy teeth! All those years of care and maintenance have paid off. Patients with a healthy bite, good home care and proper diet should notice little to no wear on their teeth. Tooth wear is not a part of “being fifty”. It is a sign of imbalance in the system. During these years, it is important to remember that we may have to keep our smiles healthy for another 30-40 years. This may be a time for reconstruction for some patients. It is important to address major issues during this time so that patients can keep their teeth for the rest of their life. Many patients choose to rejuvinate their smile during these two decades. The color and shape of the teeth can over age patient’s faces. Veneers and reconstructions are common- giving patients back their youthful, natural smiles.

During our seventies and beyond, our teeth become more brittle.  Couple this with bone loss and a lifetime of dental repairs and we may end up with cracked roots and lost teeth. While many patients have all their teeth, some patients have  lost one or several teeth. If a tooth is lost, dental implants can be placed to mimic our natural teeth. Patients who have already lost many teeth can find implant supported dentures to be a magnificent way to support healthy bone, rejuvinate their smile and give them the confidence to speak and eat in front of others. These precision dentures look wonderful and have excellent holding power!  Fluoride varnish is important to keep the teeth and any exposed roots strong.    Patients are traveling, adventuring and playing with the grandkids, busy!  How did we ever have time for a job??  Sit back and enjoy the care and attention you have given to your mouth over the years.  If you have neglected your mouth, don’t despair.  I have patients who have gotten braces and dental veneers in their eighties- good for them!  Finally found the time for themselves!

Whatever your age, you can have a beautiful, natural, youthful, healthy smile.  We look forward to seeing you at your next check-up!

Dr. Fisher