Oral Health

You’re never too old to have healthy teeth and gums! Good oral health is associated with healthy food choices and proper nutrition. Good oral health can also help you keep eating healthy foods (and your favourites) easily, well into your older years—by maintaining strong teeth for chewing and limiting discomfort.

Did you know that poor oral health can impact many areas of your life? Problems with your oral health, for example pain or missing teeth, can affect how you speak, eat, and even socialize. (Think about Interact and Diet and Nutrition in AVOID.)

Research also indicates that there is a link between oral health and other health problems (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, respiratory illness, etc.). Although this is a relatively new topic of research, there is evidence that poor oral health can aggravate other health problems.

Of note, research shows that frailty is more common among people with poor dental status. As dental status worsens, research indicates there is an increase in the severity of frailty (Bassim et al., 2018).

Maintaining a healthy mouth is important to leading a healthy life.

How can you maintain your oral health?

  • Brush teeth at a minimum twice daily
  • Floss regularly
  • Continue to visit your dentist for regular dental exams, at all ages

What can caregivers do to help their loved ones?

  • Check mouth regularly for sores, swelling, change in colour of gums
  • Contact dentist if you notice any of these changes

Good nutrition helps build strong teeth and gums

  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Limit foods and beverages containing sugar or carbohydrates
  • Choose mouth-healthy snacks, such as cheese, nuts, vegetables, non-acidic fruits

Canadian Dental Association

Dental Care for Seniors

Ontario Association of Public Health Dentistry

Information You Can Use: Seniors

Infographic: How to Care for Residents’ Teeth

Dr. Gerald Niznick College of Dentistry Centre for Community Oral Health, University of Manitoba

Mouthcare Resources for Caregivers: Fact Sheets & Video Clips (near bottom of page)

Mouth Healthy by the American Dental Association

Adults Over 60: Your Dental Health

Video: Why Getting Older Doesn’t Mean Losing Your Teeth

Brush DJ

Timer for Proper Brushing (also available as an app)


Recommended Reading

Dependent Seniors Need Better Oral Care

Senior Dental Care in Canada

9 Reasons Senior Dental Health Care Is Important


* Contact your local public health unit to learn more about affordable dentistry programs in your area

Canadian Dental Association. (2019). Dental care for seniors. [Website]. Retrieved from http://www.cda-adc.ca/en/oral_health/cfyt/dental_care_seniors/

Bassim, C. W. (2018). Oral health in healthy aging. [Editorial]. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society66(3), 439-440. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.15253

Bassim, C. W., Griffith, L., Mayhew, A., Nazmul, S. Jinhui, M., Ma, J., Verschoor, C., & Raina, P. (October 2018). Oral health and frailty: An analysis of cross-sectional data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging. Poster presented at the 47th Annual Scientific and Educational Meeting of the Canadian Association on Gerontology, Vancouver, BC. Poster retrieved from https://www.clsa-elcv.ca/sites/default/files/presentations/cag_poster_bassim_oral_health_and_frailty_oct15a.pdf

These are general health guidelines and should not be considered personal medical advice. You should consult your health care provider and discuss each element outlined above to ensure that each element of the AVOID Frailty campaign is personally customized for you.