Did you know that seniors develop as many cavities as children do?

Modern dentistry has helped us keep our teeth longer, which is great news. At the same time, because seniors have their teeth longer, chances of dental caries is higher.

Teeth are exposed to a number of damaging factors. Everyone can develop cavities, young or old. The good news is, there are numerous ways to prevent tooth decay and numerous techniques in treating them. However, seniors may be more prone to developing cavities.

There are several reasons for this:

Seniors and Dental Cavities
Seniors At High Risk For Cavities
  • Difficulty in following regular oral hygiene care. Elderly patients sometimes have difficulty with the use of their hands so they might not be able to properly brush or floss. For this reason, tartar and plaque are not removed as needed.
  • Not enough fluoride. Everybody needs fluoride, but elderly need to apply fluoride more often for protection.
  •  Dry mouth. This is common to elderly. Dry mouth may be brought about by the medications prescribed to them. Chewing gum or sucking on sugar-free lozenges will help the production of saliva.
  • Gum disease. Senior patients may develop gum disease due to poor oral hygiene.
  • Gum recession. The gums may recede exposing the roots of the teeth. Roots don’t have the protection of enamel and are at a very high risk for tooth dacay.
  • Poor diet. A diet high in sugar and low in calcium can speed up the development of dental caries.

Here are ways to keep their mouth healthy even if they are aged:

  • Have a low-sugar diet.
  • Take calcium supplements.
  • Take fluoride supplements if recommended.
  • Use toothpastes with fluoride.
  • Use mouthwash but, choose the alcohol-free variation.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Chew sugar-free gums and sugar-free lozenges.
  • Be creative on brushing material if the senior patient has a difficulty in mobility.  Rotary or electric toothbrushes are great to use.

Elderly patients need extra attention on their oral care. Regular dental check up is absolutely needed. Encourage them to visit their dentists on schedule. The dentist will check for cavities, gum disease, oral cancer detection and root decay.

If you have any questions, please call us at 323-771-7254.

By Ladan Zinati


  1. rickragin
    January 3, 2013

    How often should seniors visit their dentists? More often than children?

    • admin
      January 6, 2013

      Rick, in general it’s still twice a year, but in some circumstances, the dentist might advice for 3-4 times a year, depending on the dental problems one may have.

  2. jaer
    January 3, 2013

    i think this article is so true i have a grandpa and his theet have got realy bad ove the years this article hits the nail on the head

  3. Michael McCloud
    January 4, 2013

    This article has some surprising facts. I was unaware that seniors were just as likely to develop cavities as young kids. After reading the facts, I can understand why. One fact in particular is that medication seniors take often lead to dry mouth, which could increase cavity risks.

  4. Cindy Freeman
    January 7, 2013

    A senior dental health is many time the best indicator of its general health. No wonder people with all their teeth get to live longer.

  5. Patrick Lucas
    March 7, 2013

    As a PCA, I work with many disabled elderly clients. I can certainly say that most of my clients do not properly brush their teeth. Its not a matter of choice, but instead mobility of the arms and hands. Thus the PCA is trusted to thoroughly brush the clients teeth. Its safe to say it hardly gets done correctly. Perhaps individuals that are on medicaid/medicare should be given the option for more frequent dental visits. Yet benefits are limited and individuals who need the most attention (such as quadriplegics) have to bare with it.

    • admin
      March 15, 2013

      Hi Patrick. I definitely agree with you and unfortunately dental benefits are limited especially for adults. Hopefully someday they will realize this needed benefit and bring it back to the community.

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