The Importance of Regular Dental Checkups for Seniors

The older we get, the more responsibilities we have. From doing household chores to being financially responsible, we have a lot more to be in charge of. Our health becomes one of those responsibilities as we age, and as we age, it becomes a more delicate matter. As we get older, our immune system naturally loses some of its defenses, so being on top of our health is important. Physical health and mental health are two main factors in one’s health; keeping those in check will help us live happy and healthy lives. We often remember to schedule regular checkups with our primary physician and specialists, but sometimes we fail to forget the importance dental health has on whole-body health. Don’t get me wrong, I know dental care is expensive and not everyone has money to set aside for needed services, but regular checkups can help prevent conditions from worsening and can also be a way to keep track of other aspects of your health.

The Correlation Between Dental and Whole-Body Health:

Having regular dental checks is important for people of all ages, but they are especially important as we age. Regular checks are vital, as they can help detect issues early on and prevent any further issues from arising. Regular dental checkups and cleanings are also important to our full-body health because there is a distinct connection between the two. Poor oral health can wreak havoc on varying areas of the body. According to Harvard Health (2022), research has shown that gum inflammation (gingivitis) raises the risk for lung disease, heart disease, blood vessel blockage, and strokes. Tooth loss from gum disease (periodontitis) may raise your risk of dementia. Here are a few of the correlations between oral health and general health:

  1. Cardiovascular disease: Gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are more prevalent among seniors.
  2. Diabetes: Seniors with diabetes are at higher risk of gum disease, and vice versa, leading to potential complications in managing both conditions.
  3. Respiratory infections: Seniors are more susceptible to respiratory infections, and poor oral health can exacerbate these risks.
  4. Malnutrition: Tooth loss and oral pain can make it difficult for seniors to eat a balanced diet, leading to malnutrition and related health issues.
  5. Oral cancer: Seniors are at higher risk for oral cancer, highlighting the importance of regular dental check-ups for early detection.
  6. Cognitive decline: Some research suggests a link between gum disease and cognitive decline in older adults.
  7. Osteoporosis: Seniors with osteoporosis may experience more severe bone loss in the jaw, leading to tooth loss and other oral health problems.

The Importance of Oral Health:

Maintaining good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist regularly not only benefits your dental health but also contributes to your overall well-being. For seniors, who may already be managing multiple health concerns, maintaining good oral health can help reduce the risk of worsening any preexisting health conditions.

While dental treatments can be pricy, general upkeep is relatively inexpensive and can help prevent the need for more expensive future treatments. It is recommended to see your dentist every six months (or twice a year) for check-ups, x-rays as needed, and cleanings. In between, you should follow a daily dental hygiene routine that follows the three basic steps: rinsing, brushing, and flossing. Regular dental check-ups are essential for preventing oral health problems or catching them early, when treatment is most effective. 

Another factor in dental health includes dentures or implants. While the goal is to maintain and upkeep our natural teeth, sometimes these options may prove to be more beneficial. However, preserving our smile remains ideal. With our natural teeth, we are better able to chew, speak clearly, and feel confident. With the proper care, we can help prolong the lives of our teeth. 

Challenges Seniors May Face with Dental Care:

Seniors can face various challenges with dental care and oral health. The body changes over time and brings about new issues, one of which is dry mouth (xerostomia), which can result from medications or medical conditions. Dry mouth increases the risk of cavities and gum disease due to decreased saliva production, emphasizing the need for tailored preventive strategies and treatments. Additionally, age-related changes in oral tissues and bone density may require specialized dental care approaches to ensure optimal outcomes. Financial obligations are another challenge that seniors can face. With the increased need for varying dental treatments, it can become expensive to maintain your dental health. But cost should not deter you from taking care of such a vital aspect of your health that correlates to bodily health. There are options for low-cost or discounted dental services for seniors and insurance plans that include dental coverage. Looking into the resources available to you will help you maintain a sense of independence when it comes to taking charge of your health. 

In conclusion, dental care is important for people of all ages, but the need for care grows with age. Oral health has a direct correlation to overall well-being and is a great place to start to improve and maintain your health and wellness. By prioritizing regular dental check-ups, practicing good oral hygiene habits, and addressing any needs, seniors can maintain healthy smiles, reducing the need for dentures or implants in the future. Improving and maintaining your oral hygiene can help alleviate and prevent systemic issues. Taking care of your oral health is taking care of your overall health! 


Solan, M. (2022, January 1). The Senior’s Guide to Dental Care. Harvard Health.,raise%20your%20risk%20of%20dementia

Written for Senior Industry Services by Lauren Hope Bartling