Why Older Adults Are More Prone To Periodontal Disease And Dental Decay

Posted on: 25 September 2018

Most people would love to keep their existing teeth in great shape as they grow older, preferring their natural teeth to dentures. However, many older people suffer from decay and periodontal problems that result in tooth loss. 

Here are a few reasons why people of advanced age may be more prone to periodontal disease and cavities.

Limited Dexterity

To prevent decay and preserve gum health, the mouth must be thoroughly cleaned daily. When oral bacteria are left in place to thrive in the mouth, cavities and periodontal problems are more likely. 

The bacteria feed on the particles of food that remain in the oral cavity after snacks and meals and produce acid as a digestive product. This acid causes tooth decay by demineralizing the tooth enamel. Likewise, it incites gum disease by inflaming the gingival tissues.

To reduce the amount of bacterial acid in the mouth, the oral cavity must be regularly cleared of plaque. However, to clean your mouth thoroughly, you need to be somewhat dextrous. A toothbrush must be navigated into the tight spaces of the oral cavity, and dental floss must be properly positioned between the teeth. 

Daily dental hygiene activities may not seem difficult to a young adult. However, as a person ages, they may become more prone to diseases that impair their movement. 

Seniors are more likely to suffer from arthritis, which causes joint stiffness and pain, restricting their movements. Older adults are also more apt to be diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which may cause tremors, erratic movements, and muscle weakness.

Elevated Blood Sugar

Decay and periodontal disease are also more prevalent among seniors because of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is more common among older people. The disease, which impairs the body's production and use of insulin, can cause elevations in the blood sugar.

The increase in blood sugar can also increase the sugars that are available to the bacteria in the mouth, multiplying the amount of acid in the oral cavity. Blood sugar problems can also make it difficult for inflamed gingival tissues to heal properly, leading to more severe cases of periodontal disease.  


Older adults may smoke because of a tobacco habit that developed during their younger years. Smoking reduces the blood oxygen levels, causing infected gums to heal more slowly. The habit is also associated with an increase in dental plaque. 

If you are an older adult and are concerned about the state of your teeth and gums, visit a professional such as Tony Parsley, DMD.