Article | March 2018

Dental Care for Seniors

Today's older adults are keeping their natural teeth longer. With good habits and dental care, you can keep smiling through your golden years.

Today's older adults are keeping their natural teeth longer. We can thank scientific developments and the dental industry’s emphasis on preventive care. With good habits and dental care, you can keep smiling through your golden years. Keep reading for more tips and information.

Dental challenges as we age

People of all ages can get cavities. But seniors have some special dental challenges, including:1

  • Higher risk of developing decay around older teeth
  • Greater risk of decay of the tooth root itself, if the gum tissue has receded
  • More and faster plaque build up
  • Daily dental hygiene habits can be tricky if you have mobility, dexterity, or vision challenges
  • Dental care can be harder to access if you have medical or behavioral conditions that get in your way

Dental dos and don'ts

  • Don't skip routine dental check-ups. Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and oral exams.
  • Don't smoke. Smoking or chewing tobacco increases your risk of gum disease.
  • Do brush your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Do clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner.
  • Do replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles become frayed. A worn toothbrush won't do a good job of cleaning your teeth.
  • Do watch your diet. Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks.

You don't have to live with toothaches or bleeding gums

Your gum disease risk rises as you get older. If you have toothaches or bleeding gums, you don't have to put up with them. Talk to your dentist - there are treatments that can help.1

Don't ignore dry mouth

Dry mouth1 is commonly caused by side effects from medications. But it can also be the first sign of a health problem or disease. Talk with your dentist if you have dry mouth.

You and your dentist can keep your teeth happy for life

Good dental hygiene and regular dental visits are important no matter your age. Even if you don't have your natural teeth anymore, you should still see your dentist regularly. He or she will check for problems with your gums, tongue, and jaw. Your dentist will also screen for oral cancer symptoms.

1American Dental Association. Aging and Dental Health. November 2015. http://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/aging-and-dental-health

2Cigna Healthwise. Dental Care for Older Adults. November 2015. http://www.cigna.com/individuals-families/health-wellness/hw/medical-topics/dental-care-for-older-adults-ug3147#ug3147-sec

This information is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. Always consult with your dentist for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing and care recommendations.