How Often Should Seniors and Elderly Get Their Teeth Cleaned?

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Updated:

Generally, seniors and the elderly should have their teeth cleaned twice per year - every six months - just like the rest of us. Sometimes, however, certain medical conditions may necessitate more frequent cleanings.

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While dental care is a priority for people of any age, it’s especially important for seniors. Since tooth enamel wears down as we go older, elderly adults are more likely to experience tooth decay. (1) On top of that, many seniors experience dry mouth, which can cause the gums to thin and increase the risk of cavities.

It’s clear that oral health should be taken seriously, but how often should seniors visiting their dentist for a cleaning? You can find answers to all your questions about dental care for seniors below.

How Often Should the Elderly Have Their Teeth Cleaned?

Seniors should have their teeth cleaned at least twice per year — every six months. Why so often? While regular brushing and flossing can help keep teeth clean, some plaque is usually left behind. When plaque isn’t removed from teeth, it becomes tartar, which can only be removed by a dentist.

In addition to tartar removal, teeth cleaning gives dentists the opportunity to take a closer look at patient’s teeth. This allows them to identify and treat problems, like tooth decay, receding gums, or bone loss, early on. Prompt treatment can help older adults to keep their teeth healthy even as they age.

What Happens If You Don’t Have Your Teeth Cleaned Regularly?

Putting off dental appointments may not seem like a big deal, but it can have severe consequences, especially for seniors. When tartar isn’t removed, it can irritate the gums, causing them to bleed when teeth are brushed. Gum tissue around the teeth may also pocket, which can lead to less bone support for teeth.

In addition to these concerns, not having teeth cleaned can increase mortality in older adults. Seniors that go 12 or more months without seeing a dentist have an increased risk of 30 to 50% when compared to adults that visit a dentist at least twice a year. (2)

Not everyone enjoys visiting the dentist, but it’s vitally important for the elderly to have their teeth monitored by an expert. Cleanings can help seniors to keep their teeth and avoid costly and painful procedures, like root canals. (3)

Can You Have Your Teeth Cleaned More Than Twice a Year?

It’s recommended for older adults to have their teeth cleaned at least every six months, but dentists may recommend more frequent cleanings. For patients with oral health conditions that put them at an increased risk for tooth decay, like periodontitis or gum bone disease, a dentist may suggest cleanings every three or four months.

Ultimately, seniors should talk to their dentist and follow their advice when it comes to teeth cleanings. If an adult hasn’t had their teeth cleaned in a long time, they may need to have a deep cleaning followed by a standard cleaning. Oral hygiene is extremely important for older adults because it can affect their overall health.

It’s common for seniors to experience dental problems as they age, but regular dental checkups can help adults to protect and defend their teeth. Elderly adults should make a point of scheduling teeth cleanings twice a year so that they can keep their smile in great shape!

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/adult-oral-health/adult_older.htm
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3124861/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2821461/
Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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