Dr. Jennifer Vitarelli

Why Oral Hygiene for Elderly is Critical for Their Wellbeing

Oral health plays a significant role in elderly people’s lives, their overall health, and wellbeing. Oral problems like tooth decay, gum disease (periodontitis), tooth loss, dry mouth, and oral cancers are more common in older people compared to younger people.

In order to prevent these oral conditions, the elderly need to:

  • Create and follow an oral health care plan
  • Visit regularly to the dentist
  • Support their health with daily oral hygiene routine
  • Talk to their family about their oral concerns

Unfortunately, a lot of elderly ignore visiting dentists regularly in their life, however, they do get in touch with a wide range of people responsible for monitoring and taking care of their health like their family members, health care workers, and home care professionals. 

If you believe you are lacking in oral health knowledge and skills needed to keep oral health in check, you can look at resource packages for the elderly depending on where you live. 

How Oral Health Effects Quality of Life of Elderly

  • Poor oral health in the elderly can create problems in eating and chewing a variety of foods. This can result in poor dietary or severe weight loss leading to several other diseases. 

Furthermore, ignoring oral health also leads to an inability to relax and sleep properly which can affect the self-esteem, appearance, and confidence of the elderly people. Sometimes the ability to talk and communicate with others effectively is also disrupted.

Taking Care of Your Health and Oral Health

  • You may not know this but researchers have found out that oral health and certain diseases including heart attack and stroke are closely related. This is because your mouth acts as a doorway for diseases.

Moreover, dental problems can create health issues for the elderly including chronic medical conditions such as cerebrovascular, cardiovascular, and respiratory diseases. Oral cancers are also diagnosed more in the elderly. If you suspect your oral health is poor, get oral cancer screening done. 

Aspiration Pneumonia

  • Aspiration Pneumonia is another health problem that is directly linked to oral health. If not taken care of, it can lead to hospital admission and even death. Lower respiratory tract infections are more common in the elderly who have accumulated dental plaque, a bacterial outbreak in the gums, tongue, and teeth as well as any dentures they are wearing. 

This can get even worse if the elderly have gum disease, tooth decay, or dry mouth. 


  • Elderly with diabetes experience more gum diseases and oral infections such as thrush. This is usually due to poor diabetic control which leads to gum disease. If gum disease occurs in the elderly who already suffer from diabetes, it could lead to cardiovascular complications.

Dry Mouth

  • Dry mouth is very common in the elderly due to prescribed medications. It is largely an unavoidable and uncomfortable condition for older people. It can affect one’s ability to speak, chew, taste, and even swallow food.

Moreover, dry mouth means more bacteria in the mouth which ultimately increases the risk of oral infections, tooth decay, and aspiration pneumonia.

Improving Oral Health for the Elderly

  • The elderly must take care of their oral health. If they are unable to manage oral health on their own, their caretakers must take the responsibility to make sure their oral hygiene is looked after at all times.

The elderly have special needs and sometimes they have to follow a special oral hygiene routine. But typically, brushing their teeth, flossing regularly, and regular dental care checkups can reduce the risks of the diseases mentioned above.

Vitarelli Dental Can Help

Dr. Vitarelli offers comprehensive dental care services in Madison and Saddle River,  NJ. Our practices emphasize a family-oriented environment that focuses on patient comfort and wellness. 

We believe in treating our patients with dignity, respect, and personal attention in a friendly, relaxing environment. Dr. Vitarelli and her team work harmoniously together to address your oral health concerns. We offer intelligent and honest diagnosis and high-end personalized dental treatment for all of our patients. 

Our treatment is personalized for each patient’s case with quality care and comfort. We use the finest materials and top labs and our attention to detail is second to none. We do our absolute best to provide you with exceptional care.

Elderly looking for dental care procedures can go through oral cancer screening, periodontal therapy, restorative dentistry, dental bridges and other dental procedures at our Saddle River and Madison Dental offices.

Do not delay your appointment with a dentist if you have not been to one in the past six months. A lot of common diseases can be avoided by keeping yourself regularly checked by a dentist. Our dentists will work closely with you to ensure premium oral health care at the most affordable prices. 

Should your dental condition worsen, we have procedures that can provide a viable solution. 

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