Aging and Dental Health

Author: Kimberly N. Powell, DDS, FAGD, MS

We are living longer.  Because of the growth of the aging population, attention is needed in maintaining their oral health.  According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), dental caries (tooth decay), periodontal disease (gum disease), xerostomia (dry mouth), and oral cancer are oral conditions that the older population are more prone to develop. Limiting alcohol consumption which is an oral cancer risk factor and tobacco use which is an oral cancer and periodontal disease risk factor can help maintain oral health. To help prevent tooth decay, drink fluoridated water, brush twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and floss. If you wear dentures, remove them before bed, keep them clean, brush your oral cavity to remove plaque and stimulate tissue circulation. Visit your dentist twice a year or even every three or four months depending on the recommendations of your hygienist/dentist for clinical and radiographic evaluations and oral cancer screenings. Continue with your biannual dental appointments even if you wear complete dentures as these appointments will address any denture adjustments needed and screen for oral cancer. Arthritis in the geriatric population can be a barrier to adequate tooth brushing. The AGD suggests securing your toothbrush to a wider object, such as a ruler, or try an electric toothbrush.  Always keep your dentist aware of any concerns you may have. We are here for you.

(Major source for this article is Academy of General Dentistry / AGD-Factsheet_Aging)