September is Healthy Aging Month. Maintaining a healthy smile far too often is overlooked as part of healthy aging, so we want to provide some education on why oral health is important when we are discussing longevity.
Healthy Aging, Healthy Smile – How They Are Connected
A healthy smile is part of healthy aging as your teeth serve a pretty important function – chewing. Your teeth allow you to consume nutritious foods that are necessary for living your healthiest life. Let us break down the type of teeth you have and their function:
Incisors: These are your four front teeth on your upper and lower jaw. Their primary role is to cut food.
Canines: The mouth has four canines, two on top and two on the bottom. They have a single pointed cusp and their main role is to tear food.
Premolars: Next to the canines you have two sets of premolars on the top and bottom jaw (8 total). They serve the role to crush foods.
Molars: Posterior to the premolars are the molars. You have 12 total molars (6 on the top and 6 on the bottom) and their role is to grind food.
You will notice that every type of tooth serves an important function in allowing you to eat a variety of foods. Think about how your incisors allow you to bite into a sandwich and how your canines tear through the meat and bread of the sandwich. Next, your premolars take that sandwich and crush it up. Lastly, the molars fully grind your food so it is ready to be swallowed.
Poor Oral Hygiene and the Effects of Aging
Poor oral hygiene leads to tooth decay and other serious oral diseases. Many of these issues can lead to tooth loss. Not only can this tooth loss affect your ability to consume nutritious foods, but oral problems can lead to pain and discomfort. This can make eating uncomfortable and limit your ability to eat a variety of foods.
Healthy Smile, Healthy Life
You only get one smile, do your part to protect it. It is a common myth that losing teeth is inevitable with age. You can keep your smile if you maintain lifelong good oral hygiene. Remember to brush, floss, and make your regular teeth cleaning appointments!