Dental care for older people

There are a number of things that would we like all patients to be aware of about their teeth and gums that change as they get older.

As you get older your gums shrink in size and don’t fill the gaps between your teeth as well as they used to.

This means that as you get older more food and residue of food gets trapped between the teeth after eating.

As your gums recede and shrink back you get more root surface exposed. Root surface is not as resistant to decay as the top(crown) of the tooth.

Your risk of developing decay increases as you get older.

Am I certain to lose my teeth?

No. With the right home care and help from us, it is possible to keep your teeth for life. Gum disease and tooth decay can be prevented whatever your age. At Carton Dental it is our aim that you will keep all of your teeth in a healthy state for life. Whether or not that happens depends on you in terms of how you look after them and if you attend for preventative treatments.

What problems may older people have?

Your gums recede (shrink back) as you get older, and your teeth may become more sensitive as a result. As we get older, our manual dexterity decreases and our eyesight often disimproves. Our dentists/hygienists can show you the best techniques and aids/products to use to slow down the shrinkage of your gums and prevent sensitivity.

If you have lost some teeth in the past, and have bridges or dentures, you may have particular cleaning needs and problems. We help you with these.

Some people take regular medication which makes their mouth dry. Saliva helps to protect your teeth against decay, so if you have less saliva than usual then ask us for advice. Or you can buy special products, including artificial saliva, in most pharmacies without a prescription.

Should I expect to have problems with my gums?

Gum disease is caused by a build-up of bacteria called 'plaque'. Plaque forms constantly on your teeth. It is important to remove this plaque to avoid gum inflammation (swelling and soreness). If the plaque is not removed, the gum disease will, in time, affect the bone under the gums. This bone supports the tooth roots, so your teeth may gradually become loose.

How do I know if I have gum disease?

Gum disease is often described as a “silent” disease. As it is often painless, many people may not know that they have gum disease. Some common signs are:

  • Gums that bleed when brushed.
  • Loose teeth.
  • Receding gums.
  • Bad breath.

Not everyone has all these signs. You may have only one.

More FAQs

How can I prevent gum disease and tooth decay?

  • Thoroughly remove plaque from your teeth (and dentures if you have them) last thing at night and at least one other time during the day.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste containing 1350 to 1500ppm (parts per million) of fluoride. We may prescribe a higher fluoride content toothpaste called Duraphat 5000 if we think you need it.
  • You should clean in between your teeth at least once a day using interdental brushes or dental floss.
  • Cut down on how often you have food and drinks containing sugar - especially sweets that last longer in the mouth such as boiled sweets or mints.
  • Visit us regularly to have your mouth examined and teeth cleaned.

What do I need to clean my teeth properly?

You need a small-headed, soft- to medium-textured toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste. To clean between your teeth you could use an ‘interdental brush', floss or tape. We can show you the most appropriate thing for you to use. If you have arthritis you may find it difficult to grip a toothbrush handle, but you can get handle adapters.

Electric toothbrushes have been proven to remove more plaque than manual toothbrushes, so everyone can benefit from using them.

How do I know if I have removed all the plaque?

Plaque can be stained with special 'disclosing tablets'. This stain is harmless and will show any areas of your mouth which need closer attention. Look particularly where the teeth and gums meet. Further brushing will remove the stained plaque.

What if I have missing teeth?

Dentures, bridges or implants replace lost or missing teeth so that you can enjoy a healthy diet and smile with confidence.

What causes mouth ulcers?

Mouth ulcers can be caused by broken teeth, poorly fitting dentures or sharp pieces of food. Once the cause is removed, ulcers should heal within 3 weeks. If you notice an ulcer which does not heal, see your dentist straight away. Many serious conditions, such as mouth cancer, can be better treated if diagnosed early at a routine check-up.

Others things to consider

Choose sugar free medicines when available. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if required.

Even if you have no natural teeth remaining you should still attend the dentist once a year to be screened for mouth cancer.

Opening Hours


Our most up to date hours can be found on our Google page.
There is someone available at reception Mon-Fri 8am- 6pm, Sat 10am-1pm to answer telephone calls. Telephone calls may or may not be answered outside of these times.