Ryan M. Buckwalter, DDS, FICOI, FAGD

1420 Greenbrier Place
Charlottesville, VA 22901


Keeping Your Dental Health in Great Shape as You Age

Over the past several decades, medical care and disease prevention advancements have lifted Americans’ average life expectancy to new heights. Even though the pandemic slightly eroded that appraisal, people live longer now than in centuries past. Yet this trend comes with challenges to dental health and related medical conditions. As individuals age, their incidence of tooth decay and loss, gum disease, oral cancer, and more problems increases. You can protect your oral health and avoid such issues by regularly visiting a professional Monticello, VA, dentist and following their hygiene tips.

Look no further than Hillcrest Dental for all such needs. Our team offers general, cosmetic, and surgical dentistry services to families and individuals throughout the Monticello region. We’ve delivered high-quality care since 1953 and continue a proud legacy of smiles. For more information or to request an appointment, visit our website or call (434) 973-2224.

Below, we offer suggestions to preserve and protect your oral health as you age:

Preventing Tooth Damage and Loss

The bad habits of youth can leave an enduring impact on dental health. For example, years of acidic foods, alcohol, and tobacco consumption weakens tooth enamel, which may crack or break. These ruptures in the outer surface can irritate and infect the interior pulp tissue. Treating an advanced infection may require a root canal or other invasive procedure.

Tooth decay affects virtually all adults ages 65 and over. Areas around the gum line are especially vulnerable due to the natural recession of gum tissue with age, a process that exposes teeth’s soft root tissue. Individuals who lacked access to fluoride or dental sealants in their childhood may find more decay around the edges of fillings.

You can manage—if not outright avoid—such issues by maintaining strong cavity prevention practices, including brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups. Advances in self-care technology, like electric toothbrushes, deliver better protection than conventional instruments. Likewise, fluoride toothpaste and other innovations can rebuild tooth enamel’s mineral crystals and control plaque growth.

Caring for Gums and Other Sensitive Areas of Your Mouth

You must protect your gums and soft mouth tissue if you want healthy teeth. Seniors face a significant danger of developing periodontal disease, in which the loss of gum tissue leads to loose teeth and deteriorating jawbones. Periodontal disease is a top reason for tooth loss among seniors, and the condition worsens with time.

Some adults may unwittingly carry periodontal disease for years. Nevertheless, special scaling and regular, professional cleanings can combat this issue. Your dentist may recommend antibiotics or, in extreme cases, surgery to remove diseased gum tissue.

Monitoring for Oral Cancer

With age comes an increased risk of certain cancers, including oral cavity cancer. Tobacco users and men face the most trouble (oral cancer appears less often in women). Nevertheless, everyone should keep a close eye for growths on their lips, tongue, and bottom of the mouth. A professional should examine white or red patches that last more than two weeks.

Seniors also have a greater chance than others of suffering conditions that cause sores in the mouth, such as herpes. Although unrelated to oral cancer, these sores can make talking, eating, and swallowing difficult. Regular dental checks can identify potential problems. 

Other Oral Problems that Surface with Age

Many seniors rely on medications to control one or more other medical conditions, and those medications can affect oral health. For example, heart disease medicine and antiseizure drugs can cause gum tissue to swell. This puffy tissue can overwhelm a tooth if left untreated and require surgery to remove it.

Other medications lead to dry mouth, which can cause oral tissue irritation and infection, gum disease, tooth decay, and cavities. Those suffering from persistent dry mouth can chew sugarless gum, suck sugarless candy, or increase their water consumption. By focusing on good oral hygiene, seniors can address the causes and side effects of dry mouth.

Monticello, VA, Dentists Available for New Patients Now!

Daily use may lead us to take them for granted, but teeth require daily care and professional guidance. The comprehensive Monticello, VA, dentists at Hillcrest Dental helps individuals and families maintain robust oral health throughout their lives. Our professionals offer general, cosmetic, and oral surgery services to meet the needs of all patients, regardless of age. For more information on our dentistry options or to schedule an appointment, call (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.