Dental Health Of Seniors: Symptoms & Treatments

As seniors age, they are at a greater risk for a number of oral health problems, and declining oral health can have drastic effects on overall health. In this article, we explore the symptoms and treatments for common dental problems to help you keep the seniors in your life healthier.

It is important for caregivers to have a basic understanding of symptoms and treatments concerning top dental problems which is stated in this website for older adults. Dental health amongst seniors can be a challenge, but certainly conquerable. The aging process often comes with a rise in health conditions that have a negative effect on dental health.

According to dentists from daytona beach dental implants, the following advice can help with prevention, treatment, and management of common dental problems in seniors and based on their information, dental problem at any age can occur due to thumb sucking practices in childhood. Seniors are equipped with years of wisdom, but the mouth that dispenses that wisdom may be in great pain. Sixty-five plus years of chewing, grinding, gnashing, and general wear and tear combined with the administration of various medications, medical conditions, and a potential decrease in daily dental care can cause many oral health problems in seniors.

Health issues often affect dental health in various ways: tooth decay, tooth sensitivity and pain, inflamed gums (very red), bleeding gums (gingivitis), infection and halitosis, are just a few of the conditions seniors face.

Listed below are the 5 most common dental problems in seniors solved by expert dentists (read more about Tolley Dental here) with some helpful advice to combat each condition and symptom.


  • Tooth Decay

Tooth decay can lead to cavities, which can cause pain, infection, and even tooth loss. It is often caused by a build-up of plaque and tartar.

  • A diet with sugary foods, a tendency to snack between meals, and a decrease in saliva production all contribute to the build-up of sugar and acid in the mouth.

How does tooth decay happen amongst the elderly? Medical Conditions. Tooth brushing can be difficult and painful for those with arthritis and can appear a near impossible task for those who have dementia.

  • Prevention is the best approach. Brush teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, decrease the amount of sugary foods, and drink water after each meal. Switching to an electric toothbrush may be easier to use and is more effective.

Good dental care and Zygoma implants in Jacksonville from a dentist who focuses on geriatrics is a great strategy for combating and preventing tooth decay.

  • Gum Disease

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is a common problem caused by bacteria in plaque and tartar. Smoking can also play a significant role. Symptoms in the later stages of gum disease include irritated, red, and bleeding gums.
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums due to bacteria build-up where teeth meet gum tissue. This can develop into periodontitis, a serious gum infection that damages the gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth.

  • Gum disease is preventable and can easily be treated but reliable dental care is necessary. Additionally, floss, floss, floss! And brushing daily, twice is optimal.

Sometimes chewing and swallowing become an issue in seniors, which inadvertently affects dental health. A reliable geriatric dentist is the best resort to address this challenge and ensure adequate dental health.

  • Receding Gums

Receding gums is a condition that is gradual and insidious in its presentation. Literally, the gums shrink away from teeth. This condition is often caused by gum disease and poor dental hygiene. However, the following can be contributing factors as well.

  • smoking
  • family history
  • teeth grinding (known as bruxism)

Teeth become sensitive because the root of the tooth is exposed and the teeth appear to lengthen.

  • Prevention is always the best option. Practice oral hygiene, daily, cease all smoking and avoid excessive sugar in the diet of your senior.

If untreated the following may persist and increase in intensity:

  • significant damage to oral tissue
  • increased likelihood of developing gum disease
  • greater potential for tooth loss.

If your senior has signs of symptoms of receding gums, again, a dentist focusing on geriatrics in your best option. Treatment may range from deep cleaning to surgery for resolution.

  • Dry Mouth

Many seniors complain of dry mouth. It is due to a decrease in saliva production. It is also a known side effect of many medications.

The problem with reduced saliva production is that sugar and acids build up more readily in the mouth, resulting in a greater chance of cavities and some of the problems listed above. It can also cause dry, cracked lips and a swollen tongue, making it difficult to speak and swallow.

Dry mouth can be addressed by:

  • Increasing water intake
  • Avoiding sugary foods
  • Chewing sugar-free gum
  • Certain mouth rinses can be helpful
  • Oral Cancer

The chance of oral cancer increases with age. People who smoke or drink alcohol are at a greater risk.

Symptoms include:

  • Persistent sores
  • Ulcer
  • Discoloration in oral tissue in and surrounding the mouth

Early identification could save your older adult’s life, so regular dental examinations are important to ensure that their gums and surrounding tissue are as healthy as possible.

Advancing age puts many seniors at risk for a number of oral health problems, such as:

  • Darkened Teeth

Caused, to some extent, by changes in dentin — the bone-like tissue that underlies the tooth enamel. Other causes are:

  • The perpetual consumption of stain-causing foods and beverages.
  • The 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 and should be checked by your dentist.
  • Dry Mouth

Caused by reduced saliva flow. Some causes of dry mouth are:

  • Cancer treatments that use radiation to the head and neck area
  • Certain diseases, such as Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Side effects associated with the administration of certain medicines
  • Diminished Sense of Taste

While advancing age impairs the sense of taste, diseases, medications, and dentures can also contribute to this sensory loss.

  • Root Decay

This is caused by exposure of the tooth root to decay-causing acids. The tooth roots become exposed as gum tissue recedes from the tooth. Roots do not have any enamel to protect them and are more prone to decay than the crown part of the tooth.

  • Gum Disease

Caused by plaque build-up in the mouth, which is associated with:

  • food left in and around teeth
  • the use of tobacco products
  • poor-fitting bridges and dentures
  • poor diets
  • certain diseases: anemia, cancer, and diabetes
  • Tooth Loss

Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss.

  • Uneven Jawbone

This is caused by injured or enlarged teeth or not replacing missing teeth. This allows the rest of the teeth to drift and shift into open spaces. For this, a family dentist may suggest getting braces or invisalign. You can consult a dentist on how much invisalign usually costs.

  • Denture-Induced Stomatitis

Ill-fitting dentures, poor dental hygiene, or a buildup of the fungus can cause this condition, which is inflammation of the tissue underlying a denture. This is why one should ask a dental expert to look into neuromuscular dentures.

  • Thrush

Diseases or drugs that affect the immune system can trigger the overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans in the mouth.

Age alone is not a dominant or sole factor in determining oral health. Certain medical conditions, such as arthritis in the hands and fingers, may make brushing or flossing teeth difficult to impossible to perform. Drugs can also affect oral health and may make a change in your dental treatment necessary.


Daily brushing and flossing of natural teeth is essential to good oral health. Plaque can build up quickly on the teeth of seniors, especially if oral hygiene is neglected.

To maintain good oral health, it’s important for all individuals – regardless of age:

  • 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


Going to the dentist has been reported as one of the most frightening experiences by many Americans.
Seniors may have experienced poor dental treatment during their lifetime. One should comfort and be direct about the improvement of dental care and the importance for their overall health and wellness. Here’s what your senior can expect when visiting a dentist such as the Raleigh emergency dentist.

The conversation will 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 tasting, chewing, or swallowing
  • If you have any pain, discomfort, sores, or bleeding in your mouth
  • If you have noticed any lumps, bumps, or swellings in your mouth

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

  • your face and neck (for skin discoloration, 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)
  • your teeth (for decay, condition of fillings, and cracks).

If your senior wears dentures or other appliances, the dentist will ask a few questions about when you wear your dentures and when you take them out, if removable. He or she will also look for any irritation or problems in the areas in the mouth that the appliance touches, and examine the denture or appliance itself, looking for any worn or broken areas.


When dental hygiene is practiced consistently, dental care is often a nominal cost. However, with age, the likelihood for increased complications is also associated with increased cost. For seniors on fixed income, dental care may be too expensive. Many dentists offer their services at reduced fees through dental society-sponsored assistance programs. Since aid varies from one community to another, call your local dental society for information about where you can find the nearest assistance programs and low-cost care locations.

These locations include public health clinics and dental school clinics. Also, check your local phone book, the internet, or your local dental society. There is help for seniors.


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