Skip to content

    Oral Care

    Select An Article

    Dental Care for Older Adults: FAQ

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Your teeth and gums work hard for you your whole life. As you get older, they need a little extra attention.

    Even if you take good care of your teeth and gums, it's a good idea to know about oral health problems that can crop up and ways your dentist can help.

    Recommended Related to Oral Health

    Oral Health Challenge: 5 Tricks for Dealing With Halloween Treats

    Children’s Halloween dream -- to get lots of candy -- can be their parents’ nightmare. But pediatric dental experts say Halloween can be a time to teach your children good oral health habits for life, without depriving them of Halloween treats (think moderation). Here are their five best tricks for healthy teeth.

    Read the Oral Health Challenge: 5 Tricks for Dealing With Halloween Treats article > >

    Here are answers to questions you might have.

    1. Now that I’m older, I can’t get cavities. Right?

    Wrong. They’re not just for kids. In fact, cavities happen more often in adults.

    Here’s why:

    • Fluoride wasn’t always in water supplies and toothpaste. If you didn't get enough when you were younger, your teeth may pay the price.
    • Old fillings are prime spots for tooth decay.
    • As people get older, their gums tend to recede, which can leave your tooth roots exposed.
    • You might have dry mouth. This can be a side effect of medications or a condition. Saliva does more than keep your mouth wet -- it protects teeth from decay, helps heal sores in your mouth, and prevents infections.

    2. My mouth is in pretty good shape, but my teeth are super sensitive to hot and cold. What's going on?

    This can happen to anyone, at any age. Your gum tissue pulls back from your teeth, uncovering some of the root. This can make the area sensitive to temperature extremes.

    As a quick fix, use a fluoride mouth rinse, or switch to a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. If your problem is more serious, your dentist may seal or bond the roots. He might recommend a soft tissue graft. This procedure uses material, either man-made or from another area of your mouth, to cover exposed roots.

    3. Can I still get braces, even though I’m an older adult?

    There's no age limit for correcting misaligned (crooked) teeth. If you want to improve your appearance or bite, a dentist or orthodontist can fit you for braces. It’s more common than you think.

    4. My teeth sometimes feel loose. What can I do?

    This can happen for many reasons. It could be a bite or clenching issue. Talk to your dentist.

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4
    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