5 Ways to Keep Your Teeth Strong in Retirement

Senior Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
November 28, 2023

A senior couple sitting in their home smiling

As we enter our golden years, our teeth go through significant changes that can have a profound impact on our oral health. 

Understanding the nuances of aging teeth becomes increasingly crucial as we embrace retirement. Implementing effective strategies to preserve oral health during this phase of life becomes paramount in preventing common dental issues that often accompany aging. 

What happens to our teeth as we age?

Weak enamel

Enamel, the protective outer layer of our teeth, gradually wears down over the years due to the cumulative effects of chewing, acidic food and drink consumption, and general wear and tear. This erosion can lead to a host of dental issues for older individuals. Teeth have less of a protective barrier against harmful bacteria and acids, and are therefore more susceptible to decay and cavities. Additionally, you may experience sensitivity and discomfort ‌while consuming hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks.

Receding gums

It’s common as we get older for gum tissue to gradually pull back or wear away, exposing more of the tooth’s root. When these roots are exposed, they’re more vulnerable to the harmful effects of plaque and bacteria, which can cause gum disease like gingivitis and periodontitis. Receding gums can also lead to:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Tooth mobility
  • Tooth loss

Dry mouth

Medically known as xerostomia, dry mouth is characterized by a reduced saliva production. It becomes more prevalent with age, as certain medications and medical treatments can contribute to persistent dryness. Saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy oral environment by helping to cleanse the mouth, neutralize acids and remineralize tooth enamel. When saliva production decreases, its protective effects diminish, which can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay.   

Dry mouth can also result in oral discomfort and difficulty with tasks like chewing and swallowing. Furthermore, a persistently dry mouth can contribute to bad breath and an increased susceptibility to oral infections.

Difficulty maintaining oral care

As you enter retirement, there are various challenges in maintaining a regular oral care routine. Several factors might contribute to this:

  • Physical limitations: Conditions like arthritis can make gripping a toothbrush or flossing more challenging. Decreased mobility may also limit one’s ability to reach and effectively clean all areas of the mouth.
  • Cognitive changes: Memory issues or dementia can hinder the ability to adhere to consistent dental hygiene practices. It may become more difficult to remember to brush and floss regularly, which can result in neglecting proper care.
  • Lifestyle adjustments: Retirement, moving to a retirement community or experiencing changes in daily routines can further complicate oral care, as they may impact access to dental supplies and professional care.

Methods of prevention

A proactive approach to oral hygiene is key in preventing these issues. Regularly brushing your teeth, ideally after every meal, and flossing daily can significantly reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Using a mild mouthwash can also help, but use it carefully, as excessive use may lead to dry mouth. Good oral hygiene practices not only promote a healthy mouth but also support overall well-being. 


Nutrition plays a pivotal role in keeping teeth strong in retirement. A diet rich in healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables and dairy products provides essential nutrients that support oral health. Staying well-hydrated by drinking water helps maintain saliva production, reducing the risk of dry mouth. Limiting snacking between meals can also help prevent tooth decay by reducing the frequency of acid exposure. 

It’s important to be mindful of the impact of medications, some of which may have side effects like dry mouth. Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider and explore solutions to mitigate these effects, such as saliva substitutes or adjusting your medication regimen. 

Professional dental care

Regular dental check-ups are vital for preventing and addressing oral health issues in retirement. Dentists do not only fully clean your teeth but also provide essential oral cancer screenings. Moreover, dental professionals are often the first to detect signs of other systemic diseases through oral symptoms, making it possible to see your dentist more than your primary physician in a year.

By prioritizing oral health and maintaining a strong partnership with your dentist, you can take proactive steps to keep your teeth healthy and vibrant during your retirement years.

We’ve got you covered

When planning for your dental care needs in retirement, exploring dental insurance plans like those offered by Spirit Dental can provide valuable coverage and financial support for various dental procedures, ensuring comprehensive care and peace of mind.

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