Senior Resources » 4 Reasons Dental Care for Seniors is Important

4 Reasons Dental Care for Seniors is Important

smiling senior dental care for seniors

When I enter a dentist’s office I can usually feel my blood pressure rising. After recovering from a heart attack, I decided I would simply avoid any extra stress; so, I haven’t exactly been faithful with keeping up on my annual oral exams.


I knew I needed a deep cleaning (at least, that’s what my dentist had told me last time I was there). Still, I couldn’t make myself set up an appointment.

After about a year, I finally did what I knew I should for my health’s sake, and I made the call. I told the woman who answered all about my heart attack and how I just did not enjoy having work done on my mouth. To my surprise and delight, she seemed very understanding and even encouraging.


I made my appointment, and when that day came, I tried to act bravely. My hands were sweating and my legs were wobbly before I even arrived. But, when I did, I walked right on in any way.

The staff who greeted me were nice and welcoming enough. I filled out all the boring paperwork that probably wouldn’t have taken so long if I hadn’t waited so long to be seen.

The final question on my paper asked, “how would you like your teeth to be in 25 years?” I drew a smiley face and wrote down: in my mouth.

I am proud to say that I had a deep-scale cleaning with no pain. I was nervous, but the dentist and his staff took lots of time to explain what I needed to know and showed compassion and respect. That all really meant a lot and helped keep me at ease.


If you suffer from dental anxiety, I encourage you to find the right professionals who will understand and treat you as kindly as this staff treated me. I now have nice clean teeth, a different attitude about dentists, and an overall good feeling about dental care.

And, good thing, because it turns out, dental care for seniors is pretty important (I’m just kidding. Of course I knew that!). Here are 4 reasons you shouldn’t wait as long as me to visit your dentist.

African American retired man brushing teeth in mirror

1. Cavities and Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is damage to a tooth’s enamel (surface). It’s caused by bacteria in your mouth or not cleaning your teeth well, especially after snacking or consuming sugary foods or drinks. According to the CDC, 96% of adults aged 65 years or older have had a cavity. If cavities and tooth decay aren’t treated, they can cause pain and infection. A dentist can prescribe fluoride treatments to reverse decay. If you’ve developed a cavity, then a filling will be necessary. If the cavity and decay are left unchecked for too long, a root canal may be needed, or even extraction of the infected tooth.

2. Dry Mouth

A common side effect of many medications for older adults is dry mouth. Not enough saliva can lead to gum disease and tooth decay, not to mention, it makes chewing and swallowing food more difficult. If you’re afflicted with chronic dry mouth, drinking water frequently can help. If you have a severe case of dry mouth, your dentist may prescribe medication that helps stimulate saliva. Your dentist can always advise you on how to take extra care of your teeth and gums when you have dry mouth or any other condition.

Read Next: 5 Ways Retirees on Medicare Can Afford Dental Care


3. Heart Disease

Did you know that poor oral health has been linked to heart disease? Research has found that bacteria from your gums can travel through tissues into the bloodstream, and then all over your body. This can cause inflammation and narrowing of arteries, which then may lead to a heart attack. The best preventative measure you can take is continuing regular brushing and flossing, as well as visiting your dentist twice per year.

4. Periodontitis (Gum Disease)

Periodontitis is gum disease. The cause is poor oral hygiene. Periodontitis can get really serious if left untreated. It can lead to tooth loss, spread to your jawbone, and is a risk factor for developing heart disease. Your dentist will likely do a deep cleaning of the pockets around your teeth. Sometimes antibiotics are needed and more severe cases can often require surgery.

retired couple in bathroom one with coffee cup other with toothbrush

Dental Care for Seniors is Important

Dental care at any age is important, but even more so as you age and your body changes. Oral health can affect your overall health, so it’s imperative to continue seeing your dentist twice per year, even through your senior years.

For more help and useful information on dental care for seniors, check out these resources:

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Originally published March 16, 2023


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