Our first adult tooth erupts at around with age of six and stays with us for as long as we can maintain it. As we age, the adult teeth are subjected to the following processes:
- Wear and tear from chewing food and excessive grinding habits,
- Erosion from acidic food and beverages and gastric reflux; and
- Abrasion from brushes and sometimes harsh chemicals in toothpaste formulas.
As a result, our teeth may look more yellow, and may also feel sensitive to cold and hot changes in our mouth.
The most common side effect of radiation treatment for cancers in the head and neck and medications for high blood pressure is dry mouth. Dry mouth is caused by the side effects of the medications and radiation treatment on our salivary glands, which may affect the quantity and quality of our saliva. With less saliva and less protective effects of our saliva, our teeth may be even more prone to wear and tear, erosion and abrasion mentioned above. In addition, we may also be more prone to dental decay, frequently near the gums of the teeth.
As our body changes with age and we take medication or undergo certain treatments for our health conditions, our mouth may also be affected.
Dry mouth may also be responsible for bad breath as food may be stuck longer on the teeth and in the mouth.
Dental decay and bad breath caused by dry mouth can be prevented by good oral hygiene. In addition, in cases where you are deemed of being at high risk of having dental decay, your dentist can help by applying high concentrations of fluoride onto the vulnerable teeth surfaces. The fluoride ions will then strengthen the teeth surfaces and reduce the chance of dental decay. However, it is important to upkeep the cleanliness of your teeth as this protective layer will wear off with time.