Aging gentleman being happy with his new dental implant

Looking after our smiles is not only an essential aspect of staying healthy now but doing so will help us as we grow older as well. Just like the rest of our bodies, aging impacts the state of our teeth and gums, and understanding this relationship can help us take the correct measures to preserve our oral health, no matter what stage of life we are in.

At our neighborhood dental practice, our team is here to assist you with all your smile goals; please contact us today for more information about general dental health in Millwoods!

Demographics of Older Individuals

Older patients, just like teens and children, are a unique demographic who may deal with a different set of challenges regarding their dental and overall health and wellness. Noted below are some of these issues:

  • The potential for comorbid conditions to develop is increased – Comorbidity is when an individual is dealing with several chronic diseases at once that can impact their health. Aging heightens our risk of facing such problems, which can include diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia, and heart disease.
  • More medications – A lot of older adults take multiple medications a day to help manage their bodies. While this is not necessarily a negative thing, taking more medications means the risk of unwanted side effects can rise.
  • Sensory and physical impairments – Individuals dealing with things like this can have problems communicating or moving, leading to further obstacles when it comes to providing proper healthcare.
  • Additional dental issues – Things like dry mouth, dental cavities, and gum disease are more likely to damage the smile of other individuals.

Overall, everyone is different regardless of their age, which directly applies to their health and well-being. Alongside those that have been listed, hearing loss, depression, neck and back pain, and cataracts also impact the lives of many elderly individuals. All these conditions can give way to further issues, impacting one’s ability to eat, speak, sleep, and live comfortably.

Common Dental Issues Encountered by Seniors

It is important to remember that there is no such thing as the perfect smile; rather, optimal oral health will vary from patient to patient. However, that does not mean that certain things should be ignored, especially for seniors.

Some of the most common issues that senior dental patients face include, but are not limited to the following:

Dry Mouth

Also called Xerostomia, dry mouth regularly impacts 30% of elderly patients, and this percentage increases as they grow older. Now while dry mouth does not necessarily constitute a serious oral health problem, it can be a symptom of other issues like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and certain medications. Dry mouth can also contribute to bad breath (halitosis), sore and cracked lips, and even cavities.

Drinking water throughout the day will significantly help with this. Coffee, alcohol, and sodas, in comparison, can cause this to develop.


Receding gums is common in old age. This can invite several other problems to manifest like exposed tooth roots, advanced periodontitis, and cavities. Cavities form when there’s an excess amalgamation of plaque and tartar on, inside, or around a tooth. More space for this to gather means a higher risk of cavities.

Tooth Loss

A prominent feature of aging is the breakdown of our bodies, and this readily applies to our smiles. 1 in 5 individuals 65 or older experience complete tooth loss. Like most conditions, the chances of this occurring only increase as they continue to age. Missing teeth can not only contribute to bone deterioration due to infrequent stimulation, but it also impacts your ability to bite and chew hard and soft foods.

Dentures, whether partial or complete, and dental implants are two effective solutions that dentists recommend to patients dealing with this.

Oral Cancer

While patients of any age can develop oral cancer, it is typically diagnosed in older individuals. Many factors can lead to this condition such as genetics, lifestyle factors, and severe infections.

If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these dental obstacles, we highly encourage you to reach out to a dentist near you and schedule a consultation to have your smile evaluated.

Reasons Senior Dental Care is Important

Though we may not realize it, our teeth, gums, our jaw, and other elements of our oral cavity play a substantial role in helping us stay healthy and happy. No matter how old we are, prioritizing our dental hygiene is essential, especially if we want to keep enjoying all the things we love without feeling any pain or discomfort.

Amongst others, here are some of the main reasons why, especially for seniors, dental health and treatment are so vital:

  • Reduces the chances of/need for dental prosthetics. Dentures, bridges, and implants are just a few examples of structures that dentists can recommend to repair smiles that have been damaged due to trauma, sporting accidents, or old age. Though they are all beneficial in their own way, they can still feel uncomfortable and irritate your mouth. Not to mention you must dutifully take care of them as well.
  • Eating and speaking are easier. One thing that a lot, if not most of us, overlook is that our natural teeth actually help us talk clearly, allowing us to pronounce certain words and syllables necessary for clear communication. They also make mealtime much less complicated; prosthetics can sometimes shift around or gather additional food debris.
  • No need for adjustments. By maintaining your natural smile, you won’t have to worry about coming in for extra dental appointments. With natural teeth there is no risk of the potential for gum swelling and irritation as the result of constantly wearing functional prosthetics.
  • A confidence boost. Our smiles play a large role in self-confidence; after all, they’re one of the things that people notice first when we see them! Confidence isn’t just a concern for teenagers; elderly individuals want to look and feel their best too. Having healthy teeth will not only keep them looking bright, but you won’t have to feel embarrassed because you won’t be missing any teeth either.

How to Protect Your Dental Health in Old Age

With all of that said, there are most certainly measures that you can take to help preserve your entire smile as you continue to age. They are:

  1. Brush and floss every day. Doing so is necessary whether you’re 12, 20, or 60! You should be brushing at least twice a day for approximately 2 minutes and flossing at least once a day. This removes particles that have stuck to your teeth throughout the day and doesn’t give them a chance to solidify in place, especially overnight.
  2. Use mouthwash. Antibacterial mouthwash specifically is a great habit to get into. It’ll freshen up your breath and help eliminate any lingering pieces of bacteria that you may have missed while brushing.
  3. Get fluoride. There’s a reason why fluoride is provided to you during your cleanings – because it’s very effective at preventing cavities and reinforcing the natural structure of your teeth, namely the enamel.
  4. Avoid tobacco. Smoking cigarettes, pipes, and chewing tobacco can not only stain teeth but is closely linked with oral and throat cancer. Not using these products will help you stay healthy now and in the future.
  5. Watch your sugar intake. It’s not bad to indulge in a sweet treat from time to time but tooth much sugar can lead to cavities. Sodas, candy, and snacks with starch are just some examples of these foods. After you do eat or drink one of these things, be sure to brush your teeth so the sugar doesn’t have time to amalgamate.
  6. Drink water! Why not swap out that cup of afternoon coffee with a glass of water? Not only will you feel refreshed, but water cleans your mouth out too.
  7. Visit a dentist in Millwoods. Biannual dental cleanings and checkups are recommended for a reason! These appointments allow both you and your dentist to monitor your oral health. Your dentist will be able to identify issues and treat them before they can become more serious.

If you have any questions or concerns about your oral health, don’t hesitate to let them be known. At Agape Dental we’re here to ensure that all goes well with your oral health journey, and that you obtain the smile that you deserve.

To get started, please give us a call, fill out the request form on our website, or you can drop by our location and speak with a staff member in person about general dental health near you. We’re very excited to work with you!