The most outer layer of our teeth, enamel, is the whitest and strongest layer. Beneath that is dentine, which is weaker and more yellow in colour.
As we age, our teeth start to wear down gradually. This means that the enamel layer starts to wear thin and exposes the dentine layer. As a consequence, our teeth become weaker and appear shorter and more yellow in colour.
In addition, gum recession increases as we age. This means that our gums shrink and expose more of the roots of our teeth. This can be unsightly as well as cause sensitivity.
As we get older, the action of chewing over the years causes our teeth to drift more forward which creates crowding mainly in the lower front teeth region.
There are certain factors and/or habits that accelerate the dental ageing process. These include:
Smoking causes teeth to become stained giving them a brownish aged appearance.
Bad Brushing Habits
Brushing too aggressively and/or brushing with a hard bristled toothbrush can cause tooth abrasion as well as gum recession. This wears the enamel layer of the teeth giving them a more aged appearance.
Chewing on Pens or Windpipes:
This habit can cause the edges of the front teeth to wear down making them look shorter in length.
Bruxism (Grinding Your Teeth):
Bruxism causes attrition. This means that over time, the biting surfaces of the teeth wear down making them look more flattened and shorter in length.
Consuming Large Quantities of Carbonated and/or Citric Drinks:
Consuming large amounts of carbonated and citric drinks over a long period of time damages the teeth as they cause the enamel to erode. This makes the teeth look more yellowish in colour as the dentine layer is exposed.
Malocclusion (Incorrect Bite):
Having a bite where the edge of one or more teeth touches another tooth/teeth incorrectly can cause wear on certain surfaces of the teeth. Long term wear changes the bite further which creates even more wear and causes the bite to collapse. It’s a never-ending cycle. A collapsed bite makes us look older as it reduces the vertical dimension.
So how can all this be prevented? Unfortunately we cannot prevent this completely, but we can slow down the process by avoiding the causative factors and addressing some of our bad habits.
Visiting the dentist regularly will help in identifying some of these factors and, therefore, help in finding a solution. For example, if you grind your teeth then the dentist can construct a customised night guard for you to wear in order to protect your teeth from the action of grinding. If your bite is incorrect then you may consider orthodontic treatment to correct the bite and prevent the accelerated damage to your teeth.