City Health Information
Volume 32 (2013) New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene No. 1; 1-6


Promoting Oral Health
  • Caries and periodontal disease can largely be prevented by limiting sugar intake, brushing teeth twice daily, and flossing daily.

  • Examine the mouth for signs of oral disease and assess oral health risks, such as poor oral hygiene and alcohol or tobacco use.

  • Educate patients about good oral hygiene and regular dental visits and make referrals as appropriate.


People aged 65 years and older are at higher risk of chronic diseases of the mouth, including dental infections (eg, caries, periodontitis), tooth loss, benign mucosal lesions, and oral cancer, as well as xerostomia and candidiasis (28,38). The incidence of root caries in patients older than 60 years is twice that of 30-year-olds (39); 64% of people older than 80 years have root caries, and up to 96% have coronal caries (above the gum) (40). The increase in the prevalence of periodontitis among older adults is most likely caused by the progression from mild to moderate periodontitis with increasing age (16), reflecting lifetime disease accumulation (19).

An increasing number of adults aged 65 years and older have some or all of their teeth intact because of improvements in oral health care such as community water fluoridation, advanced dental technology, and better oral hygiene (41). As a result, do not assume that tooth loss is an inevitable part of aging; encourage older patients to follow the same oral hygiene practices as younger patients.

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