Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Oral Care

Select An Article
Font Size

Frequently Asked Questions About Senior Dental Care

1. As a senior adult, do I really need to be concerned about cavities any more?

Actually, cavities can be more frequent in older adults for a number of reasons. They may not have been exposed in childhood to fluoride in community water supplies and toothpaste, and adults are likelier to have decay around older fillings.

In addition, cavities in the tooth root are more common as gum tissue begins to recede in older adults, exposing the tooth root surface to decay. Also, dry mouth, resulting from the natural aging process and certain medications and diseases, can lead to more tooth decay. Without an adequate amount of saliva, food particles can't be washed away and the acids produced by plaque can't be neutralized.

Recommended Related to Oral Health

Gum Contouring: Is it Right for You?

There's more to a beautiful smile than sparkling teeth. The shape of your teeth also plays a part. If your teeth look small and stubby, a treatment called gum contouring may improve your smile.

Read the Gum Contouring: Is it Right for You? article > >

2. My teeth have suddenly become very sensitive to both hot and cold, but my mouth is otherwise healthy. What could cause this?

Receding gum tissue could be the cause of sensitivity. As gum tissue pulls back away from teeth, the root of the tooth becomes exposed. A soft tissue graft would be the recommended treatment. Other treatment suggestions might include using a fluoride mouth rinse or switching to a toothpaste made specifically for sensitive teeth.

Visit your dentist to so that you can be diagnosed and treated properly.

3. Can braces still be an option for the senior adult?

There is no age limit for correcting misaligned (crooked) teeth. The mechanical process used to move teeth is the same at any age. So the benefits of orthodontic treatments such as braces are available to both children and adults who wish to improve their appearance and bite. The main differences between treatments in adults and children is that certain corrections in adults may require more than braces alone and the treatments may take longer because adult bones are no longer growing.

4. Are seniors more at risk for oral cancer?

Yes, the risk of oral cancer increases with age. Any lesion found on the tongue or anywhere in the mouth needs to be examined and closely watched. Smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages is associated with oral cancer.

5. Is there anything that can be done to make my loose teeth more secure?

First, visit a periodontist (a dentist who specializes in diagnosing, treating, and preventing diseases of the gums and the supporting bones of the teeth (both natural and man-made teeth). He or she will examine your condition, review your oral hygiene practices, and discuss your medical history. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can contribute to the problem of loose teeth.

6. How does long-term smoking impact oral health?

For one, smoking increases your risk of oral cancer. Other oral health consequences include delayed healing following tooth extraction and periodontal treatment, increased bone loss within the jaw, bad breath, and tooth discoloration.

WebMD Medical Reference

Next Article:

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

Get the latest Oral Health newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Never
(0)
Good
(1-3)
Better
(4-6)
Best
(7)

You are currently

Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

close up of woman sticking out tongue
Sores, discoloration, bumps and more.
toothbrushes
10 secrets to a brighter smile.
 
Veneer smile
Before and after.
Woman checking her bite in mirror
Why dental care is important.
 

Woman dissatisfied with granola bar
Slideshow
woman with jaw pain
Quiz
 
eroded front teeth
Slideshow
brushing teeth
Video
 

Variety shades of tea
Slideshow
mouth and dental instruments
Article
 
Closeup of a happy young guy brushing his teeth
Tool
womans smile
Video