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Common Oral Health Concerns In Seniors

Wisdom may come with age, but also does a number of problems associated with aging teeth and gums. Number of factors like a lifetime of chewing, grinding and general wear and tear combined with medications, medical conditions, and a potential decrease in dental care can cause many oral health problems in older adults.

Dental problems are never any fun, but the good news is that most of them can be easily prevented.

Having poor oral health care for seniors can affect a number of important factors, including a person’s appetite, weight, and the body’s immune system. It can also affect how seniors view themselves. Poor oral health is a growing concern among seniors. A lack of oral care can not only lead to health concerns, but can also affects the emotional well-being. Educating yourself about common dental problems and their causes can also go a long way in prevention.

Here is a list of dental problems common in the elderly people.

Dry Mouth or Xerostomia

Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. It is a side-effect of most of the medications, including those for allergies , asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety or depression, Parkinson’s , Alzheimer’s and various other disease. Elderly people may be required to take medication which can cause dryness in their mouth. Without the saliva’s natural defense system, a dry mouth can be more prone to cavities and tooth decay. If you are experiencing dryness in your mouth, read about your medication’s side effects and consult your doctor. This is one reason why it is so important to tell your dentist about any medications that you may be taking. Your dentist can make recommendations to help relieve your dry mouth symptoms and prevent cavities.

Bad Breath

For most of us, bad breath is a sign that we need to brush or floss regularly or more often. However, for many older adults, bad breath could be a cause for more serious concern. Seniors are more likely to experience bad breath. Getting older also makes us more likely to have dry mouth, which can contribute to bad breath. If you are wearing dentures or other dental appliances, they may simply need to be cleaned more regularly. When they are not cleaned sufficiently, they can accumulate food and plaque which can lead to stinky breath.

Tooth Loss

Adults over the age 65 years have few or no remaining teeth. Periodontitis which involves inflammation and infection of the gums may cause mobility and hence loose teeth. In order to avoid tooth loss, make sure you maintain proper oral care and hygiene and regular dental checkups. Periodontal disease is a destructive disease of the gums and supporting structures caused by the long-term accumulation of bacteria. It is more likely to occur in people with poor oral hygiene, in people who smoke, and in people with certain disorders, such as diabetes mellitus, poor nutrition, leukemia.


Seniors are more at risk of developing cavities than children. To avoid cavities do not consume foods that are high in sugar on a regular basis and make sure you take good care of your oral health. Generally a risk of cavities is seen at its highest in infants and teen years and as people age with the adult dentition coming into formation, newly forming tooth decay is less likely. However, that’s not to say we don’t need to worry about new holes.

  • One type of decay that does become more prevalent is root caries. These are lesions that appear on the root surface of the teeth that is usually covered by the gums. Conditions that lead to less amount of saliva production can significantly increase the risk of root decay.
  • Other areas that become a risk of decay are previous dental restorations that are not monitored or replaced in time.

You may wonder why you are suddenly getting cavities when you haven’t had them in years. But as we get older, we enter a second round of cavity prone years. One common cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Regular dental visits helps in preventing dental cavities.

Poor Denture Care

Dentures are a very common way of treating tooth loss but also require just as much care as natural teeth do. Seniors are often at risk of having poor denture care, which can lead to a number of oral health problems as with time the dentures may shift or not fit properly in your mouth. Plaque also easily builds up underneath the denture and irritate your gums and tissue.

Gum Disease

There are two primary types of gum disease. The first is gingivitis which is milder. You may have gingivitis without any discomfort or noticeable symptoms. This is why it is important to see your dentist on a regular basis. Though you may not see the signs of gum disease, the dentist will. Periodontitis is a more severe form of gum disease that may develop when gingivitis goes untreated. Most seniors suffer from gum disease but do not think they cannot do anything to treat it. Dental clinics in India offer different treatment modalities to deal with such conditions. Gum disease is linked to several health concerns among seniors, including heart disease. This makes it more important that you take care of your teeth and gums, especially if you have gum disease.

Tooth Discoloration

As the age advances, the outer layer of enamel on your teeth gets worn away revealing the natural yellow color of dentin which makes seniors at risk of experiencing tooth discoloration. Also with advancing age, the tooth lays down more dentin, which decreases the size of the pulp. This reduces the translucency of the tooth, which makes for a darker appearance . Treatment options to whiten the teeth can vary depending on the cause of the discoloration and may include:

  • Using proper tooth brushing and flossing techniques.
  • Avoidance of the foods and beverages that cause stains.
  • Bondings.
  • Veneers.

To maintain good oral health, it is important for all individuals regardless of their age. Following steps helps in preventing dental problems:

  • Brush at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste
  • Floss at least once a day.
  • Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash once or twice a day.
  • Visit your dentist on a regular schedule for cleaning and an oral exam.
  • While an unattractive smile is not technically a “dental problem,” it is a major reason why many patients seek dental treatment.
  • An unattractive smile can really lower a person’s self-esteem at any age. Luckily, with today’s technologies and developments, Dentists in India can offer a number of treatments that anyone can have a beautiful smile.
  • Reputed dental clinics in Delhi offer teeth whitening, dental implants, orthodontics or any other cosmetic dental work which can give you the smile of your dreams.
Posted by- Dr Sonam