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Oral Health for Older Adults

Oral health is important at every age, but our needs change as we get older. People aged 65 and over have a unique set of challenges when it comes to keeping their teeth and gums healthy. If you’re an older adult or a caretaker for one, here’s what you need to know about aging and oral health.

Oral Health Challenges Faced by Older Adults

A number of dental issues affect older populations more than others, including:

  • Xerostomia, commonly known as dry mouth. 30% of people aged 65 and older experience xerostomia, which can be caused by medications or health conditions like diabetes. Chronic dry mouth increases your risk for mouth sores, tooth decay, and other complications.
  • Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. Over 70% of older adults experience gum disease, which is a leading cause of tooth loss. Common symptoms include swollen, painful, or bleeding gums.
  • Missing teeth. Older adults are more likely than younger people to be missing some or all of their teeth due to gum disease or tooth decay. This can interfere with eating and make it more difficult to get important nutrients.
  • Denture-induced stomatitis. Stomatitis is a painful inflammation that can occur anywhere in your mouth. Some cases can be caused by dentures that don’t fit well or that aren’t cleaned properly.
  • Oral cancer. Older adults are at an increased risk for oral cancer. Early symptoms to look out for include red or white patches in the mouth, a mouth sore that doesn’t heal, or a lump in the mouth. Talk to a doctor right away if you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms.

Maintaining an oral health routine can be more challenging for older people if they have limited mobility or conditions like arthritis. In addition, some older adults may be struggling with cognitive issues like dementia or Alzheimer’s that can impair their ability to take care of their oral health. But even though it can be challenging, dental hygiene is an important part of overall health that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Oral Health Tips

To reduce your risk for common oral health problems that affect older populations, it’s important to:

  • Brush your teeth and floss at least twice a day. If you have difficulty with these tasks, an electric toothbrush can help clean your teeth thoroughly. Floss picks also make flossing faster and easier.
  • See your dentist at least once a year for a checkup and cleaning. Even if you use full dentures, your dentist can check the health of your gums and make sure your dentures still fit correctly.
  • Use an antibacterial mouth wash once or twice a day.
  • Drink plenty of fluoridated water. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and lowers your risk for tooth decay.
  • If you suffer from dry mouth, sugar-free gum and lozenges can help. You may also want to try over-the-counter treatments like saliva substitutes. Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol, both of which can make dry mouth worse.

Maintaining good habits can help you prevent serious oral health problems. If you have any questions or concerns about maintaining a healthy smile at an older age, call your dentist to learn more.

Award-Winning Houston Dentist At LifeSmiles by Dr. Randy Mitchmore, we provide world-class dental care in a relaxing, anxiety-free environment. To discuss how we can help improve your smile, contact us today.

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Toni Wilson
Queen of Charisma

Toni’s favorite thing about working at LifeSmiles is the beautiful scenery. When patients are having anxiety about their dental appointments, she creates a fearless atmosphere with her charisma and warmth. She is passionate about helping every patient achieve their dental health goals. She says she truly loves being part of a team where she can grow professionally and personally.

Outside the office: Toni loves spending time with her husband and their sons. She also likes to show off her green thumb with her work in her garden.


Bucket list item:
Travel around the world and learn about other cultures and regions.

Your hero: Harriet Tubman because she was passionate and a fearless leader unafraid of any of life’s challenges.

Mike Mireles
Patient Care and Education

Mike began his career at LifeSmiles seeking an opportunity to expand his skillset and advance his career. Today he works at Dr. Michmore’s side through dental procedures and surgeries. He loves working at LifeSmiles because the entire team is continually learning and keeping up to date with the newest advancements in dentistry.

Outside the office: Mike enjoys barbecuing on his patio, traveling, and spending time with his family. He’s a dog dad of two: Tati and Tito.


Bucket list item:
To visit Thailand and Dubai and to try skydiving!

Your hero: Mike looks up to his parents and is forever grateful for the life lesson they taught him; respect, manners, strength, and to be a go-getter. He continues to carry these things with him with everything he does.

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Sandra Smith
Ambassador

Sandra is 44 years old and has a learning disability. At LifeSmiles, Sandra stocks patient rooms and the coffee bar. She does all kinds of special projects like decorating for holidays and preparing awesome gifts for our patients.

Sandra loves being around all her friends and is proud to wear a LifeSmiles shirt, jacket, and name badge. You’ll always find her smiling and helping make our patients smile too.

Outside the Office: Sandra likes to go fishing with her family, swim, go to dances, and walk the mall with her friends. She is very active in the Special Olympics. This year, Sandra won second place in the state volleyball tournament (go, Sandra!). She sings in her church choir and every other year goes on an international trip with them.

Spirit Animal: Butterfly. She likes them because they are pretty.

Andie Willis
Director of Details

Andie is married with one son, Logan and now lives in The Woodlands. She grew up in Sugar Land and has followed in her mother’s footsteps – she has been in dentistry for over 35 years. Andie actually started out working in the office with her mom and learned many things from the way she worked.

Andie has been a Lead Dental Assistant for most of her career. She has worked for many specialists including oral surgeons and periodontists. She has extensive training in all facets of dentistry but especially enjoys the surgical and cosmetic side. As a science nerd, dentistry fascinates Andie and gives her a sense of accomplishment.

At LifeSmiles, she is our “Director of Details”. Andie is known for being a perfectionist because she likes to gather as much information as possible and go the extra mile to match Dr. Mitchmore’s high standards. She truly loves being part of our dedicated team of professionals who go above and beyond for our amazing patients.

Outside of the Office: Andie is addicted to Lagree fitness and loves to go off-shore fishing.

Your Hero: Her Mom. She is the most selfless person Andie knows.

John Copous
Chief Enthusiasm Officer

John became a new patient of LifeSmiles in 2008. He likes to tell people he was not allowed to leave. John worked down the street for 14 years before joining the team. He has a passion for meeting new people and extending genuine hospitality.

Often the first person people meet on the phone and when they walk in the door, you can count on John for a warm welcoming smile. You can even ‘hear’ it over the phone. He says, “I believe everyone deserves the red carpet treatment and love seeing other people smile.”

John hears stories every day how someone’s smile is holding them back. He can barely contain his excitement when shouting the praises of Dr. Mitchmore and the entire team. He shares passionate stories of how the transformations people have received at LifeSmiles, changed their lives.

Outside the Office: John loves being outside. He enjoys sharing a beach house with friends and family. He loves entertaining, throwing a party and cooking at home. He can start a conversation with anyone, anywhere. He’s an amateur stand-up comic.

Bucket List Item: To live in a foreign country for one year, somewhere near the beach. Take some time to write an epic love novel loosely based on my large Italian family.

Your Hero: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. While fictional, the character incorporates admirable qualities from real life people. She believes in the goodness of everyone, keeps on going and moves forward despite any obstacle. She is able to find humor in other people’s quirks, accepts them and makes sense of it all. Plus, she’s a little outrageous too.