The Changing Oral Health Care Needs of Older adults

August 17, 2021 by admin0

Oral health care needs change with age. Often, adults deal with issues such as missing teeth, dry mouth, or mouth and throat cancer.


There are options for replacing missing teeth. Talk to your dentist about which approach is right for you.


Bridges may be used to replace one or more missing teeth, depending on the area of the mouth and stress put on the original teeth and bridge structure. There are 2 kinds of bridges: fixed and removable. Both use artificial teeth to fill the spaces left by missing teeth. Fixed bridges are cemented to existing teeth to hold the bridge in place. They cannot be taken out. Some bridges, however, can be removed. Removable bridges have clips that snap onto existing teeth. Often, the artificial tooth or teeth in a removable bridge can be mounted in a pink acrylic base to match the gums.

Your bridge should fit comfortably and stay in place. If it doesn’t, contact your dentist. Do not try to adjust the fit of a bridge yourself.


Dentures are a full set of artificial teeth that can be put in and taken out. They are primarily held in place naturally with a thin layer of saliva. Sometimes a denture adhesive may be helpful. Your dentures should fit comfortably and not rub or cause sores. If you have trouble with the fit of your dentures, contact your dentist. As with bridges, do not try to adjust the fit of your dentures yourself. Implants Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that are surgically placed in the jawbone. Implants can be designed to hold one or more artificial teeth.


Many older adults experience constant dry mouth. A number of medications can cause dry mouth, including those taken for pain, high blood pressure, depression, and asthma. Health conditions like Parkinson disease and medical treatments like radiation of the head and neck also can cause reduced saliva.

There are some things you can do to help get some relief: sucking (not chewing) ice chips, drinking sips of water often, using a humidifier, or chewing sugar-free chewing gum.

But constant dry mouth does not just mean a lack of saliva. It can merely be the feeling that your mouth is dry, even though you are producing saliva. Whether you are producing saliva or not, contact your dentist about your symptoms.


Cancers in the mouth or back of the throat are more common in adults 65 years or older. Fortunately, the chances of survival from these cancers are good if they are treated early.

Some signs to watch for include

  • a sore on the lips or in the mouth that does not heal
  • red or white patches in the mouth that don’t go away
  • pain, tenderness, or numbness on the lips or in the mouth
  • difficulty chewing, swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue
  • a change in the way your teeth fit together when you close your mouth or the way your dentures fit
  • a cough, sore throat, or earache that won’t go away.

You may notice these symptoms early. Talk to your dentist if you notice any of these and make regular visits to your dentist, which will allow him or her to check for anything unusual, too.


Oral health needs change as you age, making it important that you see your dentist regularly to stay on top of these changes

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