Accessibility View Close toolbar

Aging & Dental Health

Couple.Today, Americans are not only living longer — we're also retaining our natural teeth longer than ever before. But this rosy picture isn't free of thorns: Older adults tend to require increasingly complex dental treatments; are often more prone to contracting certain diseases; and sometimes find it challenging to keep up with daily oral health practices.

Yet maintaining good oral hygiene is critically important as we age. When problems occur in the mouth, they can cause difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking and smiling — basic functions which can affect both physical and social well-being. It's possible that medications prescribed for other diseases can adversely affect a person's oral health; it's also possible that a decline in oral health can worsen existing maladies (such as diabetes), or even cause systemic (whole-body) inflammation. What other special dental issues do older people face — and what can be done about them?

Dental Concerns for Older Adults

If you think cavities are just for kids — think again! A recent study found that nearly one-third of people over 65 had untreated dental caries (cavities). In older people, these are found not only in the crown (chewing surface) of the tooth, but also in the root, which may become exposed due to gum recession. Regular dental checkups are the best way to find and treat dental caries; left untreated, they can cause pain, require more complex procedures, and eventually lead to lost teeth.

Gum disease is another major oral health issue faced by older people — and it's presently the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. The disease is caused by plaque bacteria, which thrive on the sticky biofilm that clings to the surface of teeth when they aren't properly cleaned. Poor-fitting dentures can make the problem worse, as can the presence of certain diseases (such as diabetes or cancer).

Sometimes, decreased mobility (due to arthritis or similar conditions) makes routine brushing and flossing more difficult. Special brushes with larger grips and floss holders can help make daily cleaning easier; additionally, therapeutic mouthrinses may be prescribed. In-office treatments can also be effective in bringing gum disease under control.

Blythe Danner Oral Cancer Video.

Oral cancer is a concern at any age, but it's 7 times more likely to show up in a person over 65 — and it causes more deaths in older Americans than skin cancer does. Early detection offers the best chance at controlling the disease, and improves survival rates significantly. A thorough screening for oral cancer should be a part of every older person's routine dental checkup.

Dry mouth (xerostomia) isn't just an annoyance — it can be harmful to your oral health. Aside from its lubricating qualities, saliva contains beneficial digestive enzymes, acid neutralizers, and bacteria-fighting agents. A number of factors may cause the body to produce less saliva than normal — but in older adults, this problem is often due to side effects from prescription or over-the-counter medications. If you're experiencing chronic dryness of the mouth, it's sometimes possible to change your medication, and/or use products designed to relieve these symptoms.

Oral Hygiene For Life

It was once commonly believed that dental problems and the loss of teeth were an inevitable consequence of aging. But here's the fact: Age itself isn't a risk factor for tooth loss; properly cared for, your teeth can last a lifetime. However, it's true that the mouth does change as you age. How can you give yourself the best chance of keeping your natural teeth? You guessed it: Maintain a regular practice of good oral hygiene!

Brush twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush — use one with a special grip, or an electric brush, if it helps. Clean in between your teeth with floss, or another type of interdental cleaner, at least once a day. If you wear dentures, regularly clean and care for them as instructed. Eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water. And don't forget to have regular dental exams so that little problems don't turn into major headaches!

Related Articles

Saliva - Dear Doctor Magazine

Saliva Like blood and other bodily fluids, saliva contains molecules that can reveal the presence of disease in the body. Scientists are developing saliva-testing methods that will make it safer and more efficient to diagnose a number of serious diseases... Read Article

Dry Mouth - Dear Doctor Magazine

Dry Mouth Dry mouth, caused by insufficient saliva flow, is more than a minor annoyance to the millions who suffer from it. That's because saliva helps maintain oral health in a variety of ways. If your mouth is persistently dry, here's what you should know... Read Article

Tooth Decay - Dear Doctor Magazine

Tooth Decay — A Preventable Disease Tooth decay is the number one reason children and adults lose teeth during their lifetime. Yet many people don't realize that it is a preventable infection. This article explores the causes of tooth decay, its prevention, and the relationship to bacteria, sugars, and acids... Read Article

Our Location

Find us on the map

Hours of Operation

Our Regular Schedule

Monday:

7:45 am - 5:00 pm

Tuesday:

7:45 am - 5:00 pm

Wednesday:

7:45 am - 1:00 pm

Thursday:

7:45 am - 7:00 pm

Friday:

Closed

Saturday:

Closed

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

What Our Clients Say About Us

  • "Hands down the best dentist I’ve ever been to. Dr Damelio is a master of his trade and the dental hygienists were the nicest and most professional I’ve ever dealt with. I would recommend this place to anyone!"
    Alex O.
  • "I had a great experience at my first appointment with Dr. Damelio and my hygienist Cally. The office is clean, staff is friendly and you can tell they really care about their patients!"
    Kyle C.
  • "Dr. Damelio has been exceeding my expectations ever since we first met them. Everyone is wonderful to work with and have great communication."
    Mel P.
  • "Dr. Damelio has an awesome team working with him. They all work very well together to make your visit efficient and productive. They are great at making the experience painless and I have nothing but compliments for the entire practice."
    Matt A.
  • "My children and I are always treated very well at Dr. Damelio's. The care is excellent. The staff is the best. We all enjoy going there very much."
    Carla P.
  • "Dr Damelio is competent, courteous, friendly and he has trained his staff in that mode. Everybody know your name and greets you upon coming. They out of their way to schedule to meet your convenience. Everyone knows their role and they do it well. It is a pleasure, an an honor, to have Dr. Damelio as my dentist."
    Jerry M.
  • "I have always had a tremendous phobia of the dentist growing up but things changed after I went to Dr. Steve. I had a few bad experiences in the past but after going to Dr. Steven Damelio they have completely gone away. I have never had a minute of pain and the staff are really great they are the best."
    Jim S.
  • "I love the friendly staff at Steven G. Damelio, DMD. I always leave this dentist office with my teeth looking great."
    Jamiee L.
  • "I always have an excellent experience at Dr. Damelio's office. Everyone is so nice and they have a great staff, keep up the good work."
    Brett M.
  • "I recently had a dental issue that needed quick attention. Dr. Damelio's staff was excellent. They worked with me and got me right in to the office for an appointment. Dr. Damelio gave me his full time and attention and was able to take care of the problem quickly and painlessly. I think this is a great dental practice and recommend Dr. Damelio to all of my friends."
    Megan M.
  • "Everyone at Dr. Damelio's office always so professional and friendly. Dr. Damelio always takes the time to explain everything and puts me at ease. I know I'm receiving the best care at each of my visits."
    Bonnie T.
  • "My family has been patients of Steven Damelio for a few years. My children and I are always treated very well. The care is excellent and the staff is top-notch. We all enjoy going to see Dr. Damelio."
    Lana B.
  • "I love coming to see Dr. Damelio. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly, it totally eliminates the fear of of being at teh dentist. Dr Damelio also performs his work so well that I never feel pain and I am rarely in any discomfort. I highly recommend them for sure."
    Coleen M.