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Aging And Dental Health

Aging and Dental Health

As you start aging, like your body and skin, the mouth also starts showing some changes. It becomes more important to take care of your teeth and dental health with time. You need your teeth more as you age, as the mouth is literally the gateway to one’s health. One common misconception is that losing your teeth as one ages is inevitable, but it’s not true. If you take proper care of your oral health, your teeth will last you a lifetime.

With time the nerves in your teeth become smaller, which makes your teeth less sensitive to cavities or other dental problems. If you don’t get regular dental check-ups done, this in turn can lead to major dental problems which are not being diagnosed until it is too late.

Aging changes occur in all of the body’s cells, tissues, and organs. These changes affect all parts of the body, including the teeth and gums.

Certain health conditions that are more common in old age and taking certain medicines can also affect oral health. Learn what you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy in your later years.

If you want to feel good and stay healthy throughout your life, get regular check-ups done by the best dentists in Delhi.


How Age Can Affect Oral Health? 

As we age certain changes occur slowly over time:

  • Cells in the body renew at a slower rate
  • Tissues become thinner and less elastic
  • Bones become less dense and weak
  • The immune system become weaker, so infection can occur more quickly and healing takes longer

These changes affect tissues and bones in the oral cavity as well. This will increase the risk for oral health problems.

Common Oral Health Problems in Older Adults

Dental Problem in old age


Older adults are more at a risk for dry mouth caused by reduced saliva flow. This can occur because of

  • Age
  • Use of certain medications
  • Certain health conditions viz… diabetes, high blood pressure
  • After chemotherapy in cancer patients.

Saliva plays an important role in maintaining oral health. It protects your teeth from decay and helps your gums to stay healthy. When the salivary glands in your mouth don’t produce enough saliva, it can increase the risk for:

  • Problems in tasting, chewing and swallowing
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Gum disease and tooth decay
  • Yeast infection in the mouth (thrush) -Diseases or drugs that affect the immune system can trigger the overgrowth of the fungus (Candida albicans) in the mouth.
  • Many medicines, such as medicines for high blood pressure, cholesterol, pain, and depression, can reduce the amount of saliva you produce. This is probably the most common cause of dry mouth in older adults.
  • Radiation from chemotherapy in cancer treatment can cause dry mouth.
  • Health conditions such as diabetes, stroke, and Sjogren syndrome can affect your ability to produce saliva.


  • Receding gums are common in older adults. This is when the gum tissue pulls away from the tooth exposing the root of the tooth. This makes it easy for bacteria to build up and causes inflammation of gums and decay of the teeth. This is caused by plaque and made worse by food left in between the teeth, use of tobacco products, poor-fitting bridges and dentures, poor diets, and certain diseases such as anaemiacancer and diabetes.
  • Receding gums also cause root decay due to exposure of the roots of the teeth. Roots do not have any enamel to protect them and are more prone to decay than the crown part of the tooth.
  • Gingivitis occurs as an early type of gum disease where there is inflammation in your gums. It occurs when plaque and tartar build up on and around the tooth surface and irritate the gums. This if not checked proceeds to the bone, dissolves it gradually which causes tooth mobility and finally tooth loss.

Certain conditions and diseases common in older adults can put them at a risk for periodontal disease.

  • Not brushing and flossing every day
  • Not getting regular dental care
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Dry mouth
  • Weak immune system


Dental cavities occur when acid is produced, as a result of the reaction between bacteria (present in the mouth) with the sugar found in the food debris of the mouth. This acid attacks teeth enamel and leads to cavities.

Cavities are common in older people. Since they are careless regarding dental health thus cavities are more likely to develop at the roots of their teeth, contributed by gum recession. Dry mouth also causes bacteria to build up in the mouth more easily, leading to tooth decay.

Darkened teeth

This is caused by the age-related changes in the dentin. This is the bone like tissue that lies under the tooth enamel and absorbs the stains from foods and beverages. It can also be caused by thinning of the outer enamel layer that lets the darker yellower dentin show through. A darkened tooth or teeth may be a sign of a more serious problem (dead nerve as a result of trauma to the tooth) and should be checked by your dentist.

Uneven jawbone

Gum problems cause tooth loss; not replacing these lost teeth can lead to uneven jawbone. This allows the rest of the teeth to drift and shift into open spaces.

Age itself is not a dominant or sole factor in determining oral health. However, certain medical conditions, such as arthritis in the hands and fingers, may make brushing or flossing your teeth difficult to perform.

Drugs can also affect oral health and may make a change in your dental health.


Oral cancer is more common in people older than the age of 45.

It is twice as common in men compared to women.

Smoking and tobacco are the most common causes of oral cancer.

Drinking alcohol in excess along with tobacco use greatly increases the risk for oral cancer.

Other factors that may increase the risk for oral cancer include:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection (same virus that causes genital warts and several other cancers)
  • Poor dental and oral hygiene
  • Taking medicines that weaken the immune system (immunosuppressants)
  • Irritation to the soft tissues from the jagged sharp edges of worn-out old teeth, ill- fitting dentures or fillings over a long period of time

How to Protect your Teeth and Gums?

Irrespective of your age, proper dental care can keep your teeth and gums healthy.

  • Brush twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss at least once a day.
  • See your dentist for regular check-ups.
  • Avoid sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Do not smoke or use tobacco.

If medicines are causing dry mouth, speak with your health care provider to see if you may be able to change medicines. Ask about artificial saliva or other products to help keep your mouth moist.

When to Call the Doctor?

You should contact the best dental clinic in Delhi, if you notice:

  • Tooth pain
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Dry mouth
  • Mouth sores (ulcers)
  • White or red patches in mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Poorly-fitting dentures
  • Broken fillings

What Seniors can Expect During a Dental Exam ?

Dental Examination in old age

If you’re a senior headed for a check-up, your dentist for old age should conduct a thorough history and dental examination. Questions asked during a dental history should include:

  • The approximate date of your last dental visit and reason for the visit
  • If you have noticed any recent changes in your mouth
  • If you have noticed any loose or sensitive teeth
  • If you have noticed any difficulty in tasting, chewing or swallowing
  • If you have any pain, discomfort, sores or bleeding in your mouth
  • If you have noticed any lumps or swellings in your mouth

During an oral exam, your dentist will check the following:

  • your face and neck (for skindiscoloration, moles, sores)
  • your bite (for any problems in how the teeth come together while opening and closing your mouth)
  • your jaw (for signs of clicking and popping in the temporomandibular joint)
  • your lymph nodes and salivary glands (for any sign of swelling or lumps)
  • your inner cheeks (for infections, ulcers, traumatic injuries
  • your tongue and other interior surfaces – floor of the mouth, soft and hard palate, gum tissue (for signs of infection or oral cancer) and
  • your teeth (for decay, condition of fillings, and cracks).

If you wear dentures or other appliances, your dentist will ask a few questions about the time of the use of the dentures. He/she will also look for any signs of irritation or problems in the soft tissues of the mouth from the appliance. The dentist will also examine the denture or appliance itself for any sharp or rough edges or broken areas.

To book an appointment with us in, ‘Smile Delhi- The Dental Clinic’– call us on +91- 9811106871 or whatsapp Dr. Suprriya B Bhatia on +91-9811106377. You can also mail us on [email protected]

We Care To Make You Smile.

Posted by: Dr Hema