Studies show there is a clear link between oral health and good physical health for seniors. Untreated tooth decay and other dental problems increases the risk that seniors will develop heart disease and other serious health problems.

But, despite knowing how important oral health is for seniors, more than one in five seniors has untreated tooth decay. And other dental problems are also common among seniors. But the reasons why seniors are neglecting their oral health may surprise you. Seniors often are not brushing, flossing, and taking care of their oral health because it’s physically difficult for them to do so.

Things like holding a toothbrush or flossing are tough for seniors with arthritis or poor grip strength. And seniors that don’t drive may have a hard time getting to the dentist for regular care and cleanings. Home care assistance can help seniors maintain good oral health by assisting them with brushing and flossing daily. With the help of home care assistance, seniors will also have

Some of the health problems that seniors can develop as a result of poor oral care include:

Gum Disease

Gum disease is very common in seniors who don’t brush regularly or floss. Gum disease causes inflammation in the gums and the surrounding mouth tissue. It can cause the gums to recede and make eating painful. Untreated gum disease can also cause tooth loss or deterioration of the jaw bone if infection from the gums gets into the bone.

Tooth Decay and Cavities

Seniors that still have natural teeth should be doing everything they can to hold onto them. Untreated decay and cavities can cause seniors to lose their natural teeth. It can also make chewing painful and difficult.

Tooth Loss

Losing teeth can make it hard for a senior to chew food normally. It can also make speaking difficult. When seniors lose a lot of teeth they may need dentures, which can cause pain and impact their self-esteem.

Oral Infection

When seniors aren’t keeping up with oral hygiene there is a strong chance they will develop oral infections, which can be extremely serious. Dental infections or infections in the mouth can cause dental abscesses and painful sores in the mouth. And the infection may travel through the bloodstream to other parts of the body, including the heart.

Aspiration Pneumonia

Seniors with poor oral health are at a higher risk of developing aspiration pneumonia. Aspirational pneumonia occurs when oral bacteria, often present in the mouth due to infections or decay, are inhaled into the lungs. Aspiration pneumonia can be serious, particularly for older adults with weakened immune systems.


When seniors are having trouble chewing and swallowing due to oral health problems, such as missing teeth or oral pain, they may not want to eat. This can cause malnourishment. According to the CDC more than 50% of seniors are malnourished and untreated oral problems can contribute to that.

Cognitive Decline

Some studies suggest that there’s a link between poor oral health and cognitive decline in seniors. Chronic inflammation in the mouth may contribute to chronic inflammation throughout the body. Some new research is showing that inflammation plays a role in cognitive decline and the development of disease like Alzheimer’s.

Cardiovascular Disease

There is also some medical evidence suggesting a connection between poor oral health and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Chronic inflammation from gum disease may contribute to inflammation throughout the body, potentially affecting the cardiovascular system.

Diabetes Complications

Diabetes and poor oral health can create a problematic cycle. Seniors that have diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease, and, conversely, untreated gum disease may make it more challenging to control blood sugar levels. Diabetic seniors are strongly encouraged by doctors to make their oral health a priority and get professional dental cleanings at least twice a year.


If you or an aging loved one is considering home care assistance in Minnetonka, MN, and the surrounding areas, please contact the friendly staff at CareBuilders at Home Minnesota. Call today 612-260-2273.