Ryan M. Buckwalter, DDS, FICOI, FAGD

1420 Greenbrier Place
Charlottesville, VA 22901


4 Common Dental Problems for Seniors

women in dental chair

Even if we spend a lifetime taking good care of our teeth, dental problems can still develop with age. Though retirees may not regard professional dental care as a top priority, regular cleanings and checkups can prevent disease and improve well-being all the same. From frustrating inconveniences like dry mouth to serious conditions like gum disease, speak to your dentist and take advantage of senior dental plans to ensure your oral health. 

Charlottesville, VA, residents seeking comprehensive senior dental care can rely on Hillcrest Dental. In addition to our general dentistry, we offer emergency and cosmetic services to our valued clients. Moreover, our office’s low-stress financing options keep bright, healthy smiles accessible to all. To request a free smile consultation, call (434) 973-2224 today! 

Below, we discuss 4 dental concerns faced by seniors: 

1.) Gum Disease 

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, affects nearly two-thirds of adults 65 and older. Caused by plaque and made worse by poor brushing habits, this chronic inflammatory disease can lead to tooth loss and painful gums if left untreated. 

Underlying health conditions also contribute to flare-ups. Diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses can worsen gum disease and vice versa. If you’re experiencing symptoms such as swollen gums, persistent bad breath, or loose teeth, speak to the team at Hillcrest today

2.) Tooth Decay

While tooth decay may seem like a childhood problem (often caused by too many sweets), it also poses a significant threat to seniors. Years of wear and tear on adult teeth can thin the protective enamel, making teeth more vulnerable to acid and bacteria. Moreover, patients who experience limited dexterity may find it challenging to floss and remove hidden food particles. 

Early detection and treatment are crucial to reduce the risk of tooth decay. Regular dental checkups can reverse the early signs of tooth decay before it sets in. 

3.) Dry Mouth 

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, occurs when salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva to moisten the mouth. Many medications commonly used by seniors, including antidepressants, antihistamines, and diuretics, have a dry mouth side effect. Additionally, salivary gland function can naturally decline with age. 

Saliva washes away food particles and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in plaque. Without enough saliva, bacteria thrive, leading to increased dental plaque and a higher risk of cavities and gum disease. Proper brushing and flossing remain essential in a dry mouth environment, as well as drinking plenty of water, limiting caffeine and alcohol, and using a humidifier. 

4.) Darkened Teeth 

Man at dentist office

A lifetime of consuming stain-causing foods and beverages can make teeth appear darker. Additionally, as pearly enamel wears down, it exposes the darker yellow hue of the dentin layer. Though primarily an aesthetic concern, severe staining can indicate underlying dental problems. Schedule an appointment with full-service dentistry to access teeth whitening services and precautionary cleanings. 

Senior Dental Plans Available in Charlottesville, VA! 

Brighten your smile or sooth tooth discomfort today at Hillcrest Dental. Serving Charlottesville residents of all ages, our team proudly offers cosmetic, general, and emergency dentistry to meet all your dental needs. Learn more about our senior dental plans and request a free smile consultation today by calling (434) 973-2224!

  • "I am very pleased with how my appointment went yesterday. Everyone was really friendly. They explained everything to me about the procedure and stayed late to assure I was comfortable with the work I had done. Dr Ryan Buckwalter and his assistants were awesome. I highly recommend them for any dental work. Thank you."

    Donnette M.

  • "I was having toothache pain in my lower jaw. I called the next day to make an appointment and was given an appointment time for the very next day. I saw Dr. Ryan, who is knowledgeable, caring and has great people skills with his patients. I made another appointment to come back and have the work done."

    Denise K.

  • “Dr. Buckwalter and his assistant did a wonderful job with our 8 year old today. While they were busy talking teeth, my 3 year old was enjoying his new lip balm and balloon! Finished up with a treat from Starbucks with our gift card. So glad our kiddos don’t fear the dentist. More like they want to keep stopping in."

    Logan D.

  • “Unbelievable experience with Dr. Ryan Buckwalter. Night and Day difference from my last dental experience with another dentist. I no longer fear the dentist!”

    David S.