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Tooth Wisdom Throughout the Years

Here are some things to keep in mind to help you maintain a healthy smile as you grow older:

  • CoupleBecause dental decay is still common among older adults, it is especially important to brush at least twice a day with a 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 can also recommend mouth rinses or artificial saliva.
  • The incidence of gum disease (periodontitis) is greater among older adults; symptoms may include bleeding, tender or swollen gums, loose teeth, and bad breath. Regular flossing, combined with daily brushing, can help minimize or prevent this from happening. 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.

A daily effort to keep your mouth clean, combined with regular dental visits, can help keep your smile healthy.

This information is also available as a downloadable flyer in our Oral Health Fliers section. 

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, web, accessed March 2010.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Oral Health for Older Americans, accessed September 2013.

Vargas CM, Kramarow EA, Yellowitz JA. The Oral Health of Older Americans. Aging Trends; No.3. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 2001.