Brickmont Assisted Living Blog

The Importance of Dental Health for Seniors

Posted by The Brickmont Assisted Living Team on Feb 1, 2021 8:00:00 AM | 5 minute read

Brickmont Dental Health

From a young age, we’re taught the importance of dental and oral health: brush your teeth twice a day, floss regularly, avoid sticky candies, etc. And while it’s undoubtedly important to instill proper oral health habits in children, it seems like this practice and ideology declines with age.

The idea that dental care is only essential for children, combined with other factors—including physical or mental impairments, more pressing health concerns, and limited access to dental care—will often cause older adults to neglect their oral health. The truth is that oral health is crucial at any age and is often a crucial component to healthy aging in general. 

Brickmont Assisted Living offers assisted living and memory care services throughout Atlanta, Georgia, and is devoted to sharing insights about healthy aging and senior wellness. We’re taking a look at dental health and why it’s not only important, but how to maintain good oral health as we age.

Why is Oral Health Important for Seniors? 

While there are oral health problems that are prevalent at any age, some are more specific to older adults. Here’s a look at some of the reasons why it’s important to make dental care a priority. 

Cavities and Tooth Decay 

Cavities and tooth decay can be prevalent in children but also in older adults. 93% of all adults over 65 have had tooth decay at one point, and 18% currently have untreated tooth decay. As with all ages, tooth decay is caused by bacteria, excess sugar, and poor dental hygiene. 

Older adults are at an even higher risk for cavities because many medications cause dry mouth, another cause of tooth decay. 

Tooth Loss

Nearly one in five adults over 65 have lost all of their teeth, with the risk only getting higher as you get older. The primary culprit behind age-related tooth loss is periodontal disease—a destructive disease resulting in wobbly teeth, receding gums, and deteriorating jawbones. 

Fortunately, periodontal disease can be treated once detected, but it can often go undetected—and untreated—for decades, which is why tooth loss is so common in older adults.  

Other Diseases 

Sometimes, poor dental health and oral diseases can lead to conditions in other parts of the body. For example, adults with periodontal disease are two to three times more likely to have a heart attack or another serious cardiovascular event. Researchers have also found links between poor oral health and both diabetes and pneumonia

Oral Health Tips for Older Adults 

For many older adults, oral health can sometimes be challenging to maintain. Whether it’s a physical or mental impairment that prevents regular teeth brushing or insufficient dental care under Medicare, there are numerous reasons why older adults may not be able to take proper care of their teeth and gums. Here are some tips on how to maintain oral health as you age. 

Brush and Floss Your Teeth Daily 

One of the easiest and most effective ways to promote dental health is to brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day. Brushing and flossing can help prevent plaque buildup that causes decay and gum disease. 

If you find that it is becoming more difficult for you to brush your teeth properly, consider an electric toothbrush. Not only do these get a deeper clean than regular toothbrushes, but they essentially do the work for you, so all you have to do is move it around. Another way to ensure you do not forget to brush and floss is to leave your toothbrush and toothpaste on the bathroom counter instead of in a cabinet. Seeing them out in the open will serve as a better reminder. 

Get Regular Cleanings and Screenings 

Getting routine dental exams is also crucial in maintaining dental health and hygiene; however, many older adults will forgo these appointments because preventative dental care is not covered under Medicare. Fortunately, there are a variety of low-cost ways for older adults to get dental care, including: 

  • The Dental Lifeline Network runs state programs that give certain groups of people access to free, comprehensive dental care.  
  • Local Community Health Centers will often provide free or low-cost dental care to those with limited income or insurance restrictions. There are numerous CHCs in the Atlanta area. Find one near you here
  • Dental schools will usually offer free clinics to allow their students to practice their skills. 
  • You always have the option to pay for dental care out of pocket. A basic cleaning can run anywhere from $50-$300 but can be something to consider if you are genuinely focused on your dental health. 

Watch for Any Changes 

As you’re flossing and brushing your teeth, keep an eye out for any changes in your mouth. If you notice anything new or painful that lasts longer than two weeks, it’s best to see a doctor or dentist. Some symptoms to look for include: 

  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or producing saliva
  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Red or white patches on your tongue or mouth 
  • Pain or swelling in your jaw 
  • Extreme tooth sensitivity to hot or cold  

Oral Health and Healthy Aging 

While it can often be overlooked, dental health is critical to healthy aging and our overall health. Poor oral health and hygiene can lead to pain and discomfort, costly medical bills, and potentially serious health concerns. By taking the time to practice proper oral health, you can ensure that you’ll love your smile for a long time! 


Brickmont Assisted Living offers assisted living, memory care, and respite care services throughout Atlanta, including Alpharetta, John’s Creek, Acworth, and Roswell. Our communities promote healthy and active aging, health education, senior wellness, and much more. For more information on Brickmont communities, visit our website!

Topics: Helpful Tips, Health

Our Brickmont blog serves as a helpful resource for older adults, caregivers, and families. Subscribe to our blog to stay up-to-date on industry trends, senior health tips, and Brickmont Assisted Living communities!

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts