How to Maintain Your Oral Health as You Grow Older

By  |  0 Comments

How to Maintain Your Oral Health as You Grow Older

Changes caused by aging occur in all organs, tissues, and cells. The changes affect every part of the body, including gums and teeth. Certain health issues that are common in older people – and taking certain medications – can also impact oral health negatively.

In this detailed guide, we will take a deeper look at the oral health complications that affect elderly people. What’s more, we will show you how to keep your mouth healthy as you age. Here’s an overview of how to maintain your oral health as you grow older.

Aging Changes That Increase the Risk of Oral Health Problems

As we grow older, the following changes occur in our bodies:

  • Our bones become less strong and less dense.
  • Our immune system may become weaker. This means that infections may occur more often. What’s more, healing may take longer.
  • Our tissues become less elastic and thinner.
  • Our cells renew more slowly.

These changes do affect the bone and tissue in the mouth. This increases the risk of suffering from oral diseases in later years.

Common Oral Health Issues in Older People

Dry Mouth

Older adults have a higher risk of dry mouth. Dry mouth in elderly people is often caused by age, certain health problems, and medication use.

Saliva plays a very vital role in keeping our teeth healthy. It protects the teeth from cavities and decay and also ensures the gums are healthy.

When your salivary glands stop producing enough saliva, you may be at risk of:

  • Mouth sores
  • Thrush (yeast infection)
  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Problems with swallowing, chewing, and tasting

As you grow older, the mouth may start producing less saliva. However, some of the medical conditions that affect older adults are the leading causes of dry mouth:

  • Side effects caused by cancer treatment options may lead to dry mouth.
  • Health issues like Sjogren syndrome, stroke, and diabetes can affect the body’s ability to produce saliva.
  • Many medications – including the ones used for treating depression, pain, high cholesterol, and blood pressure – may reduce the saliva produced by your body.

Gum Issues

A large number of older adults have receding gums. This is a condition where the gum tissue pulls away from your teeth, exposing the root – or base – of your tooth. This creates a good environment for bacteria to grow and cause decay and inflammation.

A lifetime of hard brushing can make the gums recede. Gum disease – also known as periodontal disease – is a more common cause of gum recession.

Gingivitis happens to be an early type of periodontal disease. Gingivitis occurs when tartar and plaque buildup, inflate, and irritate the gums. The severe form of gum disease is known as periodontitis and causes teeth loss.

When working with professionals to improve their smiles, older adults have the benefit of catching gingivitis before it develops into periodontitis. For example, before using invisible teeth aligners to improve teeth alignment, Straight Teeth Invisible checks to ensure all teeth are healthy. When professionals identify the earliest signs of gingivitis, they recommend treatment immediately.

In older adults, some of the diseases and conditions that put them at the risk of gum disease include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Smoking
  • Not flossing and brushing daily
  • A weak immune system
  • Diabetes
  • Ignoring regular dental care


Cavities occur when the mouth bacteria convert starch and sugars from the food we eat into acid. The acid attacks the enamel, leading to cavities.

Tooth cavities are extremely common in elderly people in part because a large number of adults today are keeping their natural teeth for a lifetime. Since a large number of elderly people have receding gums, the cavities tend to develop at the roots of their teeth.

A dry mouth can also allow mouth bacteria to grow and build up. This can also accelerate – and increase – the risk of tooth cavities.

Oral Cancer

More common in people above the age of 45 – and 2 times more common in men as in women – oral cancer has several risk factors, including:

  • Smoking and other methods of tobacco use.
  • Consuming alcohol in excess and combining it with tobacco.
  • Poor oral and dental hygiene.
  • Consuming immunosuppressants – these are medications that weaken your immune system.
  • HPV (Human Papillomavirus) infection. HPV also causes several other cancers and genital warts.
  • Rubbing from fillings, dentures, or rough teeth over a large number of years.

How to Protect Your Oral Health in Old Age

Irrespective of your age, proper dental care is required. Below, we have outlined some of the tips you can use to improve oral health:

Limit Starchy and Sweet Drinks and Food

Reducing sugar and starch consumption improves your teeth’ health. Sugar creates acid that corrodes teeth. Starchy foods, on the other hand, cling to your teeth and form plaque, which creates a nice environment for bacteria build-up.

Artificial sweeteners can increase your sugar craving. In addition to affecting your teeth’ health negatively, the sugar can lead to weight gain, increasing your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Floss and Brush Daily

Floss your teeth at least once per day. Brush the teeth at least twice per day. Brushing and flossing offer a great line of defence against gum disease, tooth decay, and plaque.

Visit Your Dentists Office Regularly

Visiting the dentist’s office regular helps you catch oral health problems when they are still in their early stages. Delaying treatment (or dental visits), on the other hand, increases the risk of permanent damage.

When you visit the dentist’s office, he/she will also give your teeth a professional and thorough cleaning.

If You Are a Smoker; Quit

Smoking accelerates damage to oral tissues and teeth. What’s more, it reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood and lowers your immune system. Smokers are at a high risk of gum disease and oral cancer.

Maintain Your Dental Work

If you have had dental work done in the past, be sure to maintain it properly. Following specific instructions from your dentist can keep your dentures, implants, crowns, and fillings in good condition.

Hannah Murray

Hannah is a freelance travel and fashion writer who prides herself in finding the perfect tours and operators to make your journey as authentic and memorable as possible.

[userpro template=postsbyuser user=author postsbyuser_num=4]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.