The stereotypical image of a toothless, wrinkly old man sitting at a park in downtown Seattle does not fully encapsulate the array of oral health issues seniors face. No matter how much we dread it, our bodies and health tend to deteriorate with age. 

Not only does our skin sag and organs begin to slow, but our teeth become weaker. Unlike cardiac, skin, and memory conditions, however, oral health doesn’t grab as much attention and priority among the elderly. 

What most seniors don’t know is that oral health is just as important. Disregarding oral health could put you in the emergency room just like a stroke can. In fact, according to the American  Heart Association, bad tooth-brushing habits are tied to increased heart risk and strokes.  

 As a senior, it is important to know which oral health conditions are common and which can pose a threat to your life. Dentists at Icon Dental Center, Seattle state that the following oral health problems in the elderly must immediately be checked by a dentist to reduce the risk of other diseases linked with oral health. 

Tooth decay   

Some elderly people have become so forgetful that they no longer remember to brush their teeth. Others have difficulty even picking up their brush.

As such, tooth decay tends to be a common dental ailment among seniors. Some elderly individuals may need the assistance of a caretaker when brushing or when going to a dentist in Seattle. 

Learn how you can prevent tooth decay with easy oral hygiene practices and regular visits to the dentist.  

Sensitive teeth 

A person’s enamel wears thin as they age. Acids, as well as mechanical wear and tear, contribute to the thinning of this thin protective layer. The thinning of the enamel exposes the soft, nerve-rich dentine to hot and cold temperatures, making your teeth sensitive.

If an individual consumes excessive acidic beverages or foods, they are likely to suffer from sensitive teeth before they even hit 60. Thus, seniors often complain of frequent, sharp, stinging sensations when they drink hot beverages or eat cold desserts. 

A dentist may recommend a special tooth formulation to reduce their teeth sensitivity. You can also prevent sensitive teeth by using the right toothpaste. 

Tooth loss 

Accidents, tooth decay, illness, bacterial infections, and side-effects of medical treatments such as chemotherapy can all cause teeth to fall out from the mouths of seniors. 

Consequently, elderly people find it difficult to chew and eat. Worse, tooth loss also affects their appearance and self-esteem. Seniors may opt to have a dentist craft artificial dentures to replace their lost teeth. However, a regular visit to the dentist as a preventative measure is still much more preferable. 

Bad Breath

Seniors are more likely to have bad breath and it can lead to many awkward social situations. Sometimes bad breath can force the elderly to isolate themselves from all social activities, thus it is recommended to schedule regular dental check-ups. At Icon Dental Center, we provide regular check-ups in which your dentist will help you with this personal problem.

Bad breath is a serious concern that has to be immediately checked by a professional. Sometimes an underlying dental problem causes bad breath, so never assume that a bit of garlic or alcohol is causing the problem.

Here are 4 conditions that secretly cause bad breath in adults and seniors


It is common to see children with cavities, but did you know that seniors are more at risk of developing cavities than children? As a senior, it is important to look after what you eat. To prevent cavities, avoid any food that is high in sugar and make sure that you follow good oral hygiene practices daily. 

If you feel pain in your teeth, then you could be dealing with a cavity. If the food gets caught in this empty space, it can start to cause tooth decay and other serious dental problems. If you know you have a cavity in one of your teeth, make sure that you do not leave it untreated. 

If a cavity is left untreated, it can lead to several other common dental problems, and tooth decay

Gum Disease

A lot of seniors suffer from gum disease but tend to leave it as it is because often they have no idea how to get it treated. Gum disease can lead to several health problems in seniors including heart disease. This is why as a senior, you should be extra careful about gum diseases. If your teeth or gums hurt unusually, schedule a dental checkup. 

Read our detailed guide on gum diseases in seniors 

Dry Mouth 

Saliva contains natural antibiotics that prevent bacteria buildup and keep away tooth decay. Yet, a senior’s mouth often produces inadequate amounts of saliva because of specific illnesses or as a side-effect of the medications they take. 

The result is a dry mouth prone to tooth decay and gum disease, both caused by bacteria left unchecked. A dentist may prescribe formulations that can help the elderly produce saliva or keep it clean despite the dryness. 

To prevent dry mouth, try to stay hydrated. Learn how much water you need to drink daily to stay healthy. 

Mouth Sores 

Motor coordination problems frequently occur among seniors. This means that they find it difficult to move their hands and keep steady as they brush or floss. They often miss hard-to-reach areas in their mouth, particularly around their gums and cheek corners where food bits can become stuck. 

These places in their mouth then serve as a breeding ground for pathogens that cause mouth sores to erupt in the gums. Mouth sores are itchy, irritating patches that an elderly person may find tempting to touch or scratch. This can worsen their condition and cause quite a bit of discomfort. 

Here is a step by step guide to help you achieve the perfect dental floss as recommended by professionals. If you have a caretaker who does the flossing for you, you can have them read to understand the basics of flossing as well as how they need to floss properly. 

How Can Icon Dental Center Help Seniors in Seattle?

Seniors have unique oral health needs and treatments. Our expert team of dentists in Seattle can help design an oral care plan that the elderly and their caretakers can implement. Elderly individuals shouldn’t be afraid to approach a dentist for questions or concerns.

After all, your oral health matters, no matter how young or how old you are. You can visit Icon Dental Center in Seattle or Everett for a regular check-up or emergency care. For all other dental services, you can also book an appointment online by filling this simple form.

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