Dental benefits

Taking care as you grow older

There’s no question that America’s population is aging. The number of people 65 and older is expected to grow to more than 98 million by 2060, or about 24% of the population.1 Here are a few ways to keep your mouth and body healthy as you age.

You’re at high risk of tooth decay — it’s the #1 chronic disease for those 65 and older.

1. Keep brushing and flossing.

Almost all of your peers have had cavities, and about 1 in 5 have not sought treatment.2 To help prevent cavities, continue brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily. Fluoride also helps. Drink fluoridated water — usually found right from the tap — and brush with fluoride toothpaste. As another option, ask your dentist about fluoride rinses and gels. Studies show that those who use fluoride regularly have fewer cavities.

2. Continue seeing the dentist.

About 1 in 4 adults ages 65 and older haven’t seen a dentist in five years.3 But regular dental visits are important, even if you have dentures. That’s because dentists help protect both our oral and overall health. At a routine visit, your dentist can potentially identify signs of more than 120 diseases, including oral cancer, heart disease and diabetes. So either make use of the dental benefits you already have (preventive checkups are often covered 100%), or seek one of several affordable options for dental care available at

3. Drink water throughout the day.

As you get older, you’re more likely to experience dry mouth. That means less saliva — one of your body’s key weapons in defending against gum disease and tooth decay by washing away food particles and acid. Dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medications or can stem from other conditions such as diabetes. About 30% of people older than 65 and 40% of people over 80 suffer from dry mouth.4 Drinking water throughout the day can help relieve this condition. You should also limit consumption of alcohol and drinks that have a lot of sugar or caffeine.

1Population Reference Bureau analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data

2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

3The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

4American Dental Association