How Does My Mouth Change as I Age?

May 13th, 2020

With age comes many changes, and that includes changes within our health. The month of May is celebrated nationally as Older Americans Month, and we have some tips on how to keep your teeth healthy throughout each decade!

Because we only get one set of permanent teeth for our entire life, it's important that we do our best to keep them healthy. Many older adults suffer from gum disease, and often show signs of swollen and red gums that likely may bleed. In fact, the Washington Dental Service Foundation (WDSF) reported that severe gum disease impacts about 23% of individuals aged between 65 to 74, which can significantly impact the survival of natural teeth. Not to mention, the development of many systemic diseases have been linked with older age, in addition to poor oral health. So, its extremely necessary to continue to schedule your regular dental visits and practice good oral hygiene habits at home, especially to prevent tooth loss later on in life.

There are many factors impacting oral health that can be at play as we age. For instance, dry mouth is a common culprit of tooth decay, which often increases with medication use. Dry mouth has been noted to be a common side effect in over 500 medications, such as antidepressants, anxiolytics, antihypertensives, and antipsychotics just to name a few. It is important to inform your dentist about any medications that you are taking. To help alleviate dry mouth and lower your risk of developing cavities, your dentist may recommend avoiding certain acidic foods and beverages that can irritate dry mouths, in addition to over the counter mouth rinses, or saliva stimulants such as sugar-free gum or lozenges. Depending on the severity, your dentist may consult with your physician. Also remember, it is important to stay hydrated too!

Sometimes it can be harder to brush and floss as individuals age due to certain impairments. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or osteoporosis, for instance, often may need extra assistance taking care of their teeth and making regular dental visits. If your loved on has trouble brushing or flossing, speak with your dentist who can add helpful recommendations.

In addition, if recession has occurred overtime, it is important for older adults to properly clean exposed root surfaces of dental plaque and leftover food particles to help prevent decay on the root surfaces.

Most of us have experienced tooth sensitivity at some point in their lives, and age can be one of the many factors that can increase your risk of tooth sensitivity. Your dentist may recommend using a desensitizing toothpaste, or review toothbrushing techniques.

The rate of oral cancer also has been noted to increase with age. According to the American Cancer Society, the average age of most people diagnosed with oral cancer is 62. Often, your dentist is the first to detect oral cancer, which is another reason why keeping up with regular dental visits is important.

Here a few important tips to keep your pearly whites strong and help them last a lifetime:

  • Keep up with regular dental visits, even if you wear dentures, having your gums and surrounding oral tissues checked is necessary for your overall health.
  • Be sure to clean dentures or retainer daily to remove bacteria, using only cleaners made specifically for your oral appliance to avoid damaging. Make sure you remove your denture at night time to keep your oral tissues healthy.
  • Remember to brush at least twice each day for approximately two minutes, and use toothpaste containing fluoride.
  • It is important to floss once daily to remove leftover food debris and plaque in the areas in-between your teeth that the toothbrush cannot reach.
  • Try your best to avoid high intakes of sugar from items such as candy and soda to help lower your risk of tooth decay and improve your overall health.
  • Avoid using tobacco, which has been linked to oral cancer, gum disease, heart disease, and many other health problems. Talk to your dentist or physician for resources and help with quitting, it's never too late!
  • Add an antibacterial mouthwash to your oral hygiene routine to help reduce plaque buildup.



Tips on Living Long and Healthy

September 16th, 2019

Now that we're into the month of September, it's time to focus our attention on how to improve our overall health in honor and celebration of Healthy Aging Month! This yearly observance focuses on highlighting tips to help individuals improve their physical and mental health as adults get older. This means also focusing on oral health, since the mouth is a window to the rest of the body. In fact, gum disease, which is common in older people, has been found to be linked with memory loss. Which means taking care of your mind may rely heavily on taking care of your mouth! It is important to realize that as we continue to age, there are changes that occur within the mouth that affect our teeth and the surrounding gums and bone. It is key to minimize damage to our oral cavity at any age by maintaining regular dental visits, and keeping up with good oral hygiene habits each day. Often, poor oral health becomes a factor that worsens existing chronic health problems that an individual may face, including heart disease and diabetes.

In addition, older adults may often be taking several medications daily, which can lead to dry mouth. Not only is the feeling of dry mouth annoying, but it also is harmful to your teeth because it can increase your risk of developing tooth decay due to less saliva being present within the mouth.

No matter what age we are, it is always a great time to start practicing healthy lifestyle habits. Take a look at these tips for healthy aging:

NIH Living Longer Infographic

1. Drink plenty of water!

Staying hydrated is very important for our bodies. Tap water is the best resource because it contains fluoride, which plays a major role in keeping your teeth healthy.

2. Healthy snacks are the way to go

We need to be a little picky with our food choices in order to have a diet that is healthy for our teeth and body. Snacks filled with protein including yogurt, cheese, and nuts make great healthy and tooth-friendly snacks. Also eating foods high in iron, such as spinach, meats, and beans, can help give you the energy you need for each day. Avoid eating sugary foods and candy, as these items aren't so tooth-friendly despite their tastiness.

3. Brushing and flossing habits at home

It is important to brush at least twice a day, and floss at least once a day to help wash away all of the food particles and bacteria within the mouth that could cause harm to your pearly whites. If you wear any oral appliances, such as a retainer or denture, be sure to clean these since bacteria can harbor themselves there too! Fluoride Mouthwash also makes for a good addition to your oral care habits. Not only does the mouth wash help make your breath smell nice and fresh, it also may contain beneficial fluoride and can easily be added to your night and/or morning time routine.

4. Be active

Exercise is essential for staying healthy as we get older. Adults are recommended to get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week.

5. Schedule your dental visit

Be sure that your are visiting your dentist for a regular check up at least twice a year to ensure that your teeth are healthy.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or to set up an appointment.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist, Dr. Derek, and Dr. Emad is happy to help with your TMJ and orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs, Dr. Stephens would love to help, and our gum-specialist Dr. Singh can help with your gum-related concerns.



NIA Living Longer Infographic.png

What's the Point in Replacing Missing Teeth?

December 2nd, 2018

It is important to replace lost teeth, but why? The average adult begins with 32 teeth, which consists of incisors, canines, premolars, molars, and wisdom teeth. This full dentition allows us to eat healthy and nutritious foods such as nuts, vegetables, and protein, as well as speak, and smile. However, as we age and move through life, people may lose a tooth due to trauma, tooth decay, or periodontal disease. Missing teeth won't just cause a gap in your smile, but can lead to problems with your remaining teeth, gums, and overall structure of your mouth and jaws. Overtime, even if only one tooth is lost, the bone where the tooth used to be will begin to atrophy, which can change the appearance of your face by causing the jaw to look sunken. Not to mention, missing teeth can cause surrounding teeth to shift and make it easier for bacterial plaque to build up.

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to replace missing teeth:

Losing Teeth? This May be a Sign of Malnutrition

November 19th, 2018

As we age our health becomes increasingly important, especially as our body's begin to change. According to new research performed at Rutgers University, older men and women are at a higher chance of experiencing oral health problems and malnutrition. The inability to eat foods with healthy nutrients can lead to a decline in function and quality of life.

The study looked at 107 senior patients at  Rutgers School of Dental Medicine from 2015 to 2016. Within their health records, researchers found that greater than 25% of the patients were malnourished or at risk for malnutrition. Particularly individuals who had between 10 to 19 teeth had increased rates of weight loss, less food intake, and experienced dementia or depression compared to those without nutritional problems.

Problems within the oral cavity causing pain or trouble chewing could result in less food intake leading to malnutrition, however, further research needs to be done to determine the association between tooth loss and malnutrition. Nutrient-rich foods are often hard, such as nuts, some vegetables and meat, which can make it difficult for a person to chew if there is an issue with chewing. What we do know for sure is that eating healthy meals with the necessary vitamins and nutrients can help older adults manage chronic conditions, for instance heart disease, diabetes, and keep bones strong.

Be sure to keep an eye out for signs of malnutrition, which can include dizziness, fatigue, muscle cramps, and bleeding gums. It is important to note that although vitamin and mineral pills exist, they should not replace a healthy diet. If you have any concerns about your diet and oral health, let your dentist know. Make sure to drink water, and eat foods within the major food groups including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and low-fat/fat-free dairy products.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and their newest addition to the team, Dr. Zarah Ali, if you have any thoughts or concerns. Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. Van. Dr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other periodontal or oral surgery needs, Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.

The caring team at Wellesley Dental Group will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or to set up an appointment and consultation.



Healthy Teeth, Healthy Aging

October 1st, 2015

National Healthy Aging Month emphasizes the importance of practicing good health habits as age increases. In the United States, the current life expectancy for men and women is nearly 85 years. With continuing advances in public health, medical technology, and greater access to health insurance, people are living healthier and longer than preceding generations. With that said, oral health, regardless of age, plays a significant role in the overall health of your body! Especially as you get older, ignoring the health of your teeth and mouth can lead to more serious consequences than just a cavity.

As your age changes, your mouth also changes and it is even more vital to take care of your teeth. It is commonly believed that losing your teeth when you get older is inevitable. However, this is a misconception! If teeth are properly taken care of, they can last a lifetime!

Help your teeth age elegantly with you by keeping these few tips in mind:

Brush at least twice a day

Brushing your teeth is an essential oral health habit that applies in all stages of life. Brushing helps eliminate plaque, which contributes to tooth decay.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one-third of older adults have untreated tooth decay. When brushing, remember to brush along the gumline and tongue. With age, gums may begin to wear away or recede, leaving the root of the tooth exposed. Tooth decay is more likely to develop around the softer root or old filling.

Floss daily

Taking care of your gums is just as important as taking care of your teeth! Flossing helps prevent plaque from building up between teeth and below the gum line, where decay and periodontal (gum) disease often develop. Many adults in the United States show mild or severe signs of gum disease. It is this disease, and not the progression of aging, that is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Unfortunately, periodontal disease affects about 23 percent of adults aged 65 to 74, according to the CDC. Recent studies have concluded that the health of your gums may correlate to some chronic disease, including  Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and diabetes.

Establish a balanced and nutritious diet

What you eat can not only help improve the health your body, but also keep your teeth healthy. Vitamins and other nutrients found in certain fruits and vegetables can improve your body’s ability to destroy bacteria and protect your teeth and gums.

Schedule regular dental visits

Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are an essential part of maintaining good oral health as you age. With age, the risk of developing chronic diseases increases. The dentist can diagnose and watch for oral problems that may point to other health problems.

Avoid smoking

Not only does smoking increase your risk for lung cancer, it also increases your risk for periodontal disease, mouth pain, gum recession, tooth decay, tooth loss and other oral health problems. According to two 30-year studies at Tufts University, smokers are approximately twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers.  Also, a study conducted by the Journal of Dental Research shows that smokers are nearly twice as likely as non-smokers to need a root canal.

The use of medications also increases with age, many of which can negatively impact oral health. Some medications may cause dry mouth, which will lead to a decrease in saliva production and possibly lead to tooth decay. Saliva is critical for oral health, as it helps wash away bacteria and food particles. Also, if you wear full or partial dentures, remember to clean them daily! Food can become stuck between teeth, causing gum problems or halitosis (bad breath). By keeping your teeth healthy and strong, you might be surprised at what a difference a healthy mouth makes!

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or to set up an appointment and consultation.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. VanDr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.



The Success of Dental Implants in Women with Osteoporosis

August 13th, 2015

Aging can be a beautiful process. Yet, with age, we can expect for gradual changes within the body to occur. For instance, post-menopausal women with osteoporosis often have a greater risk of losing their teeth. New research has found that dental implants can help improve the lives of women suffering from osteoporosis.Both osteoporosis and dental implants are more connected than you may think. Osteoporosis is a condition involving one's bones, where the bones become thinner and brittle due to a loss of calcium. As a result, the  bones become more prone to fractures. It is important to note that this condition does not only affect the spine and bones within the core of the body. It can also have an impact on bones within the jaw, and thus contribute to tooth loss. Bone loss in the jaw can lead to a change in the shape of a person's face and loss of function in keeping teeth secure.

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine studied over 200 women with osteoporosis. In addition, all of the women had at least two adjacent teeth missing. Some women had dental implants, fixed partial dentures, or removable dentures, while others had no restoration work done. The study titled, "Dental Implant Supported Restorations Improve the Quality of Life in Osteoporotic Women," was published in the Journal of International DentistryEach participant was given a survey which questioned their satisfaction with replacement teeth and how it impacted their lives socially and emotionally. Participants who had dental implants reported the highest overall satisfaction with the quality of their lives, followed by individuals with fixed dentures, false teeth, and no dental restoration work, respectively. This study may indicate that dental implants provide individuals with the highest satisfaction after losing teeth.

Along the same lines, a different study observed over 600 dental implants in approximately 200 patients over the age of 50. The study found that dental implants had a 94% success rate. The success rate was also high for individuals taking osteoporosis medications. If you have osteoporosis, it's important to let your dentist know what medications you are taking and how long that you've been taking them to ensure the success of dental implants.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or to set up an appointment and consultation.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. VanDr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.


Ways to Preserve Your Teeth As You Age

August 10th, 2014

Our teeth are extremely strong and built to last all the decades of wear and tear that come with chewing and biting our foods.  The hard, white substance that covers our teeth is called enamel.  This durable material is responsible for protecting our teeth our entire lives.  As we age, it is important to realize that our teeth are also aging.  Everyone can take precautions in order to prevent some of the effects of aging on oral health.

1. Our mouths undergo many changes as we age.  Naturally, we may begin to produce less saliva as we age and many side effects of various medications include dry mouth.  Dry mouth can adversely affect the way food tastes and can also have a harmful effect on oral health.  Normal saliva production inhibits the growth of cavity-causing bacteria on teeth.  One way to combat this problem is to keep yourself hydrated by drinking water after meals or brushing teeth with a fluoride-containing toothpaste after every meal.

2. Another concern for many older people is gum disease because the risk for it increases with age.  Gum disease results in gum inflammation and receding gums.  As a result, parts of the root of the tooth remain exposed which can lead to infection and sensitivity.  According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, gum disease is more likely to occur in people over the age of 40 and is also more common among men than women.  A way to significantly reduce the likelihood of developing  gum disease, tooth loss, and even oral cancer is to avoid smoking or quit smoking if you have already started.

3. Many night teeth grinders and and clenchers avoid using a mouth guard while sleeping.  However, studies have shown that teeth grinders can wear away up to a millimeter of the tooth every year if untreated.  The signs of wear may not present right away or cause any issues.  However, as the wear adds up, teeth grinding can be quite destructive.  More specifically, grinding teeth leads to deteriorating bone structures which can lead to both gum recession and tooth loss later on in life.  The best way to combat this problem is to start using night guards early on.

Another way to preserve dental work that has already been done (such as crowns or any other dental restoration work) is to schedule a dental check-up every 6 months.  Having these check-ups ensures that there aren't any hidden cavities forming under crowns or fixtures which can lead to serious infections if left undetected.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071or to set up an appointment and consultation.


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