Oral Health for Seniors: Tips for a Healthy Smile in Later Years

Jul 11, 2024 | Blog Posts

Oral Health for Seniors: Tips for a Healthy Smile in Later Years

Maintaining good oral health throughout every stage of life is essential, but seniors can face some specific challenges that require a deliberate approach. Therefore, maintaining oral health for seniors may involve making some adjustments from routines established earlier in life to ensure strong and healthy smiles.

Understanding Oral Health for Seniors

As people age, their oral health can start to change. In particular, older adults face various challenges related to their age. For instance, enamel wear can affect even a well-maintained smile after enough time, leading to an increased risk of sensitive teeth, tooth decay, and other oral health issues.

Seniors are also more likely to face systemic health issues that contribute to oral health problems. Diabetes is one such example, which can increase one’s risk of gum disease. Other similar conditions can make specific treatments more complex and inhibit your ability to receive dental implants and restorations.

The prevalence of tooth loss increases with age as well. Complete tooth loss is much more common in older age groups, with 13 percent of adults 65 and older having no remaining natural teeth.[1] As such, seniors are most likely to need to cope with the challenges of tooth loss. By extension, it also makes them more likely to need dental restorations such as crowns, bridges, implants, and dentures, each requiring additional care. Seniors may also experience an increased risk for cavities due to gum recession and reduced saliva production (dry mouth), which is common in older age. Just like in the rest of the body, there is an increased risk of developing cancer in the mouth and oral cavity, so regular cancer screenings are of vital importance in the mouth.

Daily Dental Hygiene Tips

Oral health for seniors doesn’t have to be complicated. There are some simple steps you can take to help protect natural teeth and dental restorations. In general, they’re the same simple steps that people of any age should take to safeguard their oral health.

Brush and floss twice daily, and ensure you’re using the proper technique. Ideally, you should brush for four minutes each time. Use a fluoride toothpaste to help remineralize enamel and prevent wear. If you have any dental restorations, follow your dentist’s instructions carefully.

Keeping up with routine visits to your dentist is another essential element of dental care. They will be able to identify potential issues early on, minimizing your treatment requirements. Early treatment can help you keep your natural teeth instead of facing tooth loss and replacement.

Dealing With Age-Related Dental Health Concerns

Dry mouth is a prime example of an age-related dental health concern. The body’s saliva production slows as it ages, leaving you feeling parched, primarily upon waking. Not only is that an unpleasant feeling, but it allows the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease to thrive. Staying hydrated throughout the day can help reduce its impact, and some oral rinses and lozenges also promote saliva production.

When it comes to tooth loss, there are many potential treatment options, such as dental crowns, dental implants, and bridges. Seniors missing many teeth might consider dental implants for full-arch replacement. In other cases, full and partial dentures are available to restore the appearance and function of your smile, significantly improving your quality of life.

Considerations for Seniors With Dentures

Dentures are common among seniors. They are a versatile tooth replacement solution that doesn’t require any surgery, as dental implants do, which means they’re a viable option even if jawbone strength or other factors prohibit surgery. They are also cost-effective, and the fitting process is straightforward and convenient, making them a go-to choice for many.

Taking proper care of your dentures protects them and your oral health. Cleaning with a proper denture solution prevents the accumulation of bacteria, and storing them well prevents damage that could warp them and lead to discomfort. If you struggle with slipping dentures, consider denture adhesives that can improve both function and comfort.

Get Proactive on Oral Health for Seniors

Implementing the proper dental care to maintain good oral health for seniors can be an adjustment, but it is achievable with a little commitment. If you’re concerned about your oral health or need advice on safeguarding your smile, book your next appointment with Albion Family Dental today. Call us at 585-589-9044.



[1] https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db368.htm