7 Tips for Senior Dental Health


Like the rest of our bodies, age changes our teeth, too. While some changes are natural, others are caused by chronic diseases or the use of medications.

Maintaining dental health is crucial at any age, but it becomes increasingly essential as we grow older. Seniors face unique challenges in dental care, which, if not adequately addressed, can significantly impact their overall well-being and quality of life.

We’ve put together a list of practical tips to help older adults take care of their teeth. 

Important Note: The following tips are simply health suggestions and should not be considered or taken as professional medical advice. For medical advice or direction, seek assistance from your dentist or healthcare provider.

Key takeaways


  • A healthy lifestyle includes our teeth
  • Preventative care is the best care: Brush often and visit the dentist for regular check-ups
  • Provincial and federal governments have dental programs to help seniors cover costs


What oral health risks/issues are seniors more susceptible to?

As we age, our teeth are more prone to the following challenges: 


  • Sensitive teeth: Our enamel often wears away with age, making teeth more sensitive to hot and cold.
  • Exposed roots: In addition to enamel, as we get older, our gum lines often recede too low, leading to exposed roots. These exposed roots can cause severe pain, especially after contact with hot and cold foods.
  • Darker or yellowish teeth: This is a natural and non-harmful result of aging after years of eating and drinking substances that can stain the surface of the teeth.
  • Osteoporosis: Older people, specifically older women, are more at risk of developing this bone disease, which can lead to lower bone density and an increased chance of fractures. In this case, it could mean lost or broken teeth.
  • Dry mouth: This condition can be a side effect of various medications. It significantly increases the risk of cavities and dental decay by reducing the saliva necessary to neutralize acids and wash away food particles.
  • Gum disease and oral cancer: Seniors face a higher risk of oral cancer and gum disease, primarily due to factors like a history of tobacco use, heavy alcohol consumption, plaque buildup and ill-fitting dental fixtures.


How oral health is connected to your overall health


Dental health isn’t just to keep your pearly whites sparkling; it’s deeply interconnected with our overall well-being, especially as we age. This connection is vital for seniors, as common oral health issues can directly impact one’s general health and contribute to more significant problems.

Our mouths hold a lot of bacteria and serve as entry points to the rest of our bodies. If our mouths are in bad condition, it can open up many issues for the rest of our internal systems. Poor oral hygiene and resulting infections can exacerbate existing health issues, such as respiratory diseases, by allowing harmful bacteria to enter the bloodstream or respiratory tract.

As a result, maintaining optimal oral health goes beyond dental aesthetics, becoming crucial for supporting overall physical health and ensuring a quality life. 


8 Tips to improve oral health for seniors 


1. Book regular check-ups and cleanings with your dentist


Scheduling check-ups at least two times a year is crucial for early detection and treatment of oral health issues.


2. Practice good oral hygiene


Brush teeth at least twice daily (morning and night) with fluoride toothpaste, and use floss or interdental cleaners to get rid of plaque where your toothbrush can’t.

For some older adults with arthritis, holding a toothbrush and brushing their teeth effectively can be a challenge. Here are some tips to help your loved one engage in regular oral hygiene despite these limitations:


Toothbrush modifications for those with arthritis or low mobility:


  • Use a double-ended brush
  • Try an electric toothbrush
  • Add modifications to the handle like a sponge
  • Utilize a specially designed toothbrush, such as the popular U-shaped toothbrush


3. Use therapeutic mouthwash or rinse


Antibacterial mouth rinses can help reduce plaque, bad breath, and gingivitis. If dry mouth is a concern, look for products specifically designed for it.


4. Be careful with implants


While dental implants offer a functional and aesthetic replacement for lost teeth, they require careful maintenance. Since implants don’t have the natural regenerative capabilities of a biological tooth, it’s crucial to handle them with care.


How to care for dentures and implants:


  • Store dentures in denture cleaner or lukewarm water overnight. Avoid placing them in hot water, and don’t let them dry out.
  • Like natural teeth, clean them every day to get rid of loose food and gunk.
  • Use a denture brush and clean with tools designed specifically for dentures.


5. Maintain healthy habits 


Here are some tips to promote healthier living.


Opt for a healthy diet and limit sugary foods and drinks


Incorporate calcium-rich foods and vitamins to fortify bones and teeth. Avoid sugary snacks and acidic drinks that can erode tooth enamel.

Products with lots of sugar can lead to cavities. The sugars feed the bacteria in your mouth, producing harmful acids. Minimize your consumption of these items to reduce the risk and impact of dental issues.


Quit tobacco


Smoking and chewing tobacco are harmful habits that can contribute to gum disease, lost teeth and cancer. Quitting is a great way to prevent health complications and improve overall well-being. 


Limit alcohol consumption


Drinking alcohol in excess can dry out the mouth and increase the risk of cancer. Moderation is essential, as limiting your alcohol consumption can help safeguard against these conditions. 


6. Watch for changes in your mouth and tell your dentist


Regularly inspect your mouth for any changes, such as sores, lumps, or colour changes, and promptly report them to your dentist. Taking the initiative to monitor and address problems before they worsen can help prevent serious dental health complications. 


7. Ask about dental coverage for seniors


Dental care can be expensive, and some older adults are wary of the costs. To help alleviate this burden, governments (provincial and federal) provide dental coverage programs for seniors to help cover the expenses.

In Ontario, the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program is available to help those eligible (65 and over) care for their teeth. It provides various services, including regular check-ups and cleanings, teeth fixing, X-rays, etc.

If your loved one needs dental care in Alberta, the province has a variety of dental assistance programs for eligible seniors (65 or older). 


Recently, the federal government introduced a new program called the CDCP (Canadian Dental Care Plan) to help residents pay for dental care. It will first be open to seniors and then roll out to other members of the population. For more information on the exact timeline and how to apply, visit the Canadian Dental Association




By adopting some of these practices, your loved one can significantly improve their oral health, positively affecting their overall well-being. A healthy mouth is a gateway to a healthier life.

Remember, while these suggestions offer a foundation for maintaining your one’s dental health, they are just the beginning. We recommend visiting your dentist regularly for personalized, professional dental care tailored to your needs.

If you would like to know more about how Seasons Retirement Communities can assist you and your loved one, contact our team today.


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