The answer to this question is mixed. Human teeth are generally designed to last a lifetime but since our lifespans increased dramatically and often our habits changed for worse it became a lot more challenging.
It’s important two consider two external layers of teeth separately – the first one, called dentin is the living part inside each tooth and research shows that it actually grows weaker with age in some people. This layer is similar to your bones – you can keep it in good shape by a proper diet that includes calcium, and vitamins like D, K2, C, and E. Please note that hormonal changes related to menopause or pregnancy may worsen the situation. Weaker dentin may also cause your fillings to fall out as they age, but don’t worry – they can be easily replaced with a new ones!
The outer part of your teeth – enamel is not affected by your diet and overall health and it should not get brittle as you age. However it may get brittle regardless of your age if you do not care for your mouth properly. This includes: having too low pH levels in your mouth (causing dental erosion – enamel thinning), grinding your teeth, having tooth decay or gum disease, and not using fluoride or hydroxyapatite products in your oral care regime. The worst case scenario is having multiple problems at once – please note that if your enamel is weakened also dental procedures like scaling (dental cleaning) may further damage your teeth causing hairline cracks called craze lines. When enamel becomes thinner it is less able to protect the inner layers of the tooth. As a result, this can make our teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay and other types of damage. Additionally, gums can recede with age, exposing more of the tooth root and making the teeth more sensitive. This also poses more risk of tooth decay, erosion, bone loss and even losing a tooth.
What can be done to keep your teeth in good shape:
- have a good healthy diet that includes calcium and vitamins D, K2, E and C – you can read more on this topic in other articles on our site
- if you are grinding your teeth consider using a mouth guard during nighttime, and try to avoid this habit during daytime
- visit your dentist regularly (at least twice a year) and keep good oral hygiene
- do not use your teeth as a tool, they are meant for chewing food, not for opening packages, bottles, or chewing hard objects
- if you have acid reflux consider elevating head side of your bed by at least 6 inches
- if you’re a mouth breather consider taping your mouth for the night so that your teeth will be constantly bathed in saliva
The bottom line:
Teeth can get brittle with age, but it’s up to you if this happens or not. With proper care, your teeth will last a lifetime!
This article is a part of our Q&A series in which we give detailed answers to our readers' questions. Have a question? Don't hesitate and send it to us to get a detailed answer!
This Q&A series article is complete and was last updated on December 13, 2022.