What Dental Problems Are Common In The Elderly?

Posted on: 18 September 2015

Continued attention to personal health is important as you age. Unfortunately, one of the easiest areas of health to overlook is dental health. Here are three examples of common dental issues that elderly people face

Dry Mouth

It is commonly thought that dry mouth is a normal part of aging. It may surprise you to learn that dry mouth is more often a side-effect of medications for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other conditions. Since discontinuing the medications that may be causing dry mouth is usually not an option, it can be helpful to learn some methods to manage dry mouth.

While drinking more water is an obvious solution to dry mouth, you can also chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production. You should also limit your intake of coffee, soda, and other carbonated or acidic drinks.


While cavities are most often thought of as a dental problem in children and young adults, a number of factors can cause cavities to begin appearing more frequently later in life. Dry mouth plays a contributing factor, as saliva plays an essential role in removing food particles from the teeth. Your gums also recede naturally as you age, potentially exposing the roots of your teeth to decay-causing bacteria. Continuing good dental hygiene practices and seeing a personal dentist regularly is important at every stage of life to prevent tooth decay.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is a term used to describe both periodontitis and the more advanced condition of gingivitis. Gum disease is common among the elderly largely because it can go unnoticed, as it does not typically cause any pain until the later stages. Gum disease occurs when plaque hardens on the teeth and below the top layer of the gums to form a hard, white substance called tartar.

Gum disease is problematic because it can lead to tooth loss. As tartar builds up, the dental sockets are widened and pockets form around the base of the teeth. Eventually, the sockets can widen enough that teeth do not have the support they need to stay in place. Visiting a dentist regularly for teeth cleaning can lessen the chances of advanced gum disease. Additionally, dentists can slow the progression of gum disease by scraping away tartar below the gumline that a toothbrush can no longer reach.

Maintaining good dental health in later stages of life is not difficult if you are aware of the most common dental problems in the elderly.