Tips for a Healthy Smile As You Age

Submitted by Bonnie C. Ferrell, DDS on November 6, 2017

Maintaining a mouthful of happy, healthy teeth is relatively easy, compared to the upkeep that other parts of our body can require. Brushing just four minutes a day (two in the morning and two at night), flossing once a day, and visiting our dentists twice a year for a cleaning and a checkup can certainly be less work than putting in time at the gym on a regular basis or staying away from junk food. However, as we age, it may take a bit more work to keep our smiles satisfied. The risk of cavities, periodontal disease, and oral cancer all increase later in life, so it’s important to give our mouths the attention and care they need. Here are some tips for keeping our pearly whites happy and well as we age:

Keep Your Mouth Hydrated

Dry-mouth becomes an increasing issue with age, thanks to hormonal fluctuations, certain medications, and the decreased effectiveness of salivary glands that naturally arises as we grow older. This can be a problem, because saliva has the important job of remineralizing our mouth, which protects teeth and gums from bacteria, acid, and decay. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and chewing sugar-free gum to promote saliva production.

Invest in a Better Toothbrush

Complications from arthritis and osteoporosis can make brushing a little harder, as our ability to reach around our teeth or to brush for an adequate length of time decreases. Investing in a high-quality electric toothbrush can take some of the strain off and make it easier to maintain great oral hygiene. If you’re finding it hard to get the job done, do yourself a favor and get the best toothbrush you can. You’ll be glad you did.

Mind Your Diet

Be sure that your diet contains plenty of vitamin D and calcium, nutrients that are often deficient in the diets of older adults. These are crucial for the health of our bones and teeth, so take care to make sure you’re getting them in. A deficiency in vitamin D or calcium can lead to osteoporosis, which can cause the loss of bone tissue in the jaw and tooth loss.

Keep Regular Appointments

It’s important to maintain regular six-month cleanings and checkups with your dentist, even if you use dentures. Your dentist is able to stay on top of any problems that might develop, making it easier, less painful, and less expensive to treat them early-on. Be sure to maintain regular oral hygiene, including daily flossing, and schedule each appointment as you leave the last.

To learn more, visit Dr. Bonnie Ferrell and her team at

Dr. Ferrell cares for patients in the Lowry neighborhood of Denver, Colorado.