How Age Discolours Your Teeth

A sparkling white smile can build confidence and make you proud to show your pearly whites wherever you are. Unfortunately, many people in older age experience yellow teeth, which can lead to lowered self-esteem and quality of life. Older people should also feel confident in their smiles, so it’s important to learn about age-related care.

Teeth, gums, and the rest of the oral cavity need extra care and attention if you want them to stay healthy in your later years.

Ageing is inevitable and isn’t always pretty, and your mouth is no exception. Today, three- quarters of people over 65 retain at least some of their natural teeth. This is an improvement considering a hundred years ago it was normal to lose all your teeth and need dentures. Although this is progressive, older people still suffer higher rates of gum disease, dental decay, oral cancer, mouth infections and tooth loss. Age-related discoloration is natural and is caused by a combination of a few forms of teeth-yellowing. With time, conditions can worsen, and that’s why many of the older generation experience a yellow smile. 

Why do we lose our teeth as we age?

Your teeth are super strong to the point where your molars alone can bear down with over 200 pounds of pressure. Don’t let this fool you; they’re not indestructible. The outer layer of enamel gradually wears down from a lifetime of grinding, chewing and gnawing away, flattening the biting edges. Acidic foods such as carbonated vegetables and citrus foods dissolve the protective enamel and exposes the tooth surfaces. Cracks and breaks happen often when the enamel is weakened. Broken teeth become serious dental problems because this leaves the delicate tissue pulp exposed, then leaves the tooth vulnerable to irritation and infections. The nerves at the tooth’s core lose their sensitivity with age, which can affect how long it takes you to feel any pain from a growing infection. As infections develop you can end up needing a root canal procedure or having to lose your tooth entirely. 

Once you reach the age of 65, your chances of needing invasive procedures like root canals or having to have teeth pulled out actually triples as your teeth are more susceptible to severe damage. The only positive from that is the older you get the less nerve pain you feel when you have a dental issue, so it’s not as painful as a younger person would experience. 

Do we still get cavities as we age? 

We presume children experience the highest amount of cavities due to their sweet consumption but the rate of people over 65 goes over the amount of children needing fillings. It is suggested that the adults that grew up before the invention of fluoride toothpastes and products weren’t as protected. This meant any fillings they might have had would breakdown and cause decay. Also the gum line naturally recedes with age, so the soft root tissues become exposed and you end up needing a filling. 

Keeping up with good dental hygiene such as brushing, flossing and regular check ups with the dentist will help prevent you needing fillings and teeth removed. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prevent natural attrition of the tooth surface. 

Why do our teeth turn yellow?

Tooth discoloration results in yellow, brown or greyish teeth.There are three forms of tooth discoloration: extrinsic, intrinsic and age-related. Extrinsic discoloration can happen at any age, and it’s caused by surface stains to the enamel. There are certain foods and habits that can cause teeth yellowing through extrinsic discoloration from things like coffee, red wine and smoking.

Intrinsic discoloration occurs beneath the enamel in the dentin. The dentin can darken or turn yellow from the use of certain antibiotics and excessive exposure to fluoride during childhood. This darker color is then exposed once the enamel erodes, resulting in teeth turning brown or yellow in color.

The ageing discoloration boils down to the person’s dentin exposure.  Naturally the thinning of enamel is going to occur. Your genetic makeup can help depending on how thick your enamel is, even your dentin can be whiter. Not every adult over a certain age will be affected by severely thinning of the enamel through their genetic luck. One oral health problem is consistent and that’s once the enamel exposes a person’s dentin, it is more likely to absorb colouring agents leading to a duller smile. 

(A picture of an ageing mouth.) 


illustration of mouth showing potential trouble spots

While these problems are nothing to smile about, you can still do a lot to keep your mouth looking and feeling younger than its years.

Can all teeth be whitened?

As time goes on our once- sparkling white smile starts to dim. We know that the dimming is due to enamel wearing down exposing the yellow dentin that lays under the surface of our teeth. 

Most teeth can be whitened and your dentist will not whiten your teeth if they aren’t in a good enough condition. It’s important to be aware that some stains are caused by exposure to certain antibiotics in childhood and can be particularly stubborn to remove. Also, tooth whitening does not work on bridges, dentures and fillings. 

There are other options for teeth whitening such as cosmetic bonding and dental veneers that will help you to achieve your perfect smile. 

Can we stop the thinning of enamel?

Enamel is the hardest mineral substance in our bodies and its job is to protect our teeths surface with layers. Throughout the years the wear and tear of eating and drinking various foods and drinks naturally breaks down the layers. 

You can help the prevention of enamel wear and tear by limiting the acidic and staining foods and drinks you consume. Also taking good care of your oral health and keeping up to regular dentist appointments will all help.  

Teeth whitening options for older teeth 

Whitening your teeth professionally with Boutique whitening will not only give you the smile you desire but it will help you look 10 years younger. Boutique Whitening has a few options on how to whiten your teeth comfortably whether it’s throughout the day or during the night while you sleep. It isn’t age restricted and will work for everybody’s individual needs safely with your dentist’s guidance. 

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