Senior Smiles

Senior Smiles

Tooth wisdom throughout the years

Cavities don’t stop with childhood. Maintaining a good oral health care routine, with regular visits to the dentist, are important in keeping a healthy smile as we age. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Tooth decay is still common among older adults. Nearly one-fifth of adults 65 years and older have untreated tooth decay. 1 It’s important to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, particularly at bedtime.
  • More than 400 medications—and some medical conditions—can cause dry mouth, which prevents saliva from protecting your mouth against bacteria and decay. Drinking water, chewing sugarless gum and sucking on sugarless candy can help restore moisture. A dentist may also recommend mouth rinses or artificial saliva.2
  • Limit sugar intake, such as consuming soda pop. Those who drink one or two cans of soda pop a day have a 26 percent greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. 3
  • The risk of gum disease (periodontitis) is greater among older adults; in fact, about  68 percent of adults 65 years and older have gum disease.1 Symptoms may include bleeding, tender or swollen gums, loose teeth and bad breath.
  • Regular flossing, combined with daily brushing, can help minimize or prevent gum disease. Receding gums can result in the root of the tooth being exposed and susceptible to decay. Using fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinses can help prevent or reduce cavities on root surfaces.
  • The use of tobacco and alcohol can cause tooth-related problems, mask gum inflammation, and increase the risk of developing oral cancer. It’s never too late to quit and reduce these risks
  • Visit your dentist on a regular basis, even if you have dentures.
  • If you have dentures, brush them daily with a soft toothbrush or denture cleaning brush, with denture powder or paste, hand soap or baking soda. Then rinse with cool water. Remaining natural teeth and gums should also be brushed. When not in use, keep dentures covered with water or a denture cleaning solution to prevent drying.

This information is available to download as an oral health flier.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Facts About Older Adult Oral Health,” web.
2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Oral Health for Older Americans,” web.
3. Harvard, School of Public Health, “Sugary Drinks and Obesity Fact Sheet,” web.

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