Delta Dental of Illinois encourages focus on oral health for older adults during Healthy Aging Month

Posted on September 7, 2022 in General oral health

This September during Healthy Aging Month, Delta Dental of Illinois is highlighting the connection between oral and overall health, especially for adults who are ages 65+.

The mouth is an entryway to digestive and respiratory tracts – bacteria in your mouth can spread throughout the body and in some cases, may cause health issues. Research shows links between oral health and several chronic conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, pneumonia, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

In fact, 68% of adults 65 and older have gum disease and 30% experience dry mouth.1 Dry mouth, unlike other changes in overall health, is not a normal part of aging. Causes of dry mouth can stem from over-the-counter and prescription medications like diuretics, pain relievers and antihistamines. Other health conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson’s and lupus can also influence saliva production. To keep saliva glands healthy at any age, stay well hydrated – with water as the best choice – and try chewing sugar-free gum.

According to Delta Dental’s 2022 State of America’s Oral Health and Wellness Report, 70% of Baby Boomers believe preventive dental visits reduce the chance of serious oral health issues.2 This is a great sign, as it shows older generations are taking their oral health seriously. This is especially important as older adults or their loved ones make decisions to transition to assisted living facilities. There are key factors related to oral health to consider when evaluating assisted living options:

  • Is there a trained dental professional on-site?
  • How often are residents provided a professional dental exam and cleaning?
  • If on-site care is not provided, are they transported to dentist appointments instead?
  • What is included in residents’ daily oral health care routine?
  • What procedures are in place for proper denture care?

Keeping up on daily oral health habits such as brushing twice a day, flossing daily and visiting the dentist regularly is key to maintaining both good oral and overall health. Having dental benefits provides access to routine preventive checkups, which are usually 100% covered by a dental plan. And people with dental benefits are also more likely to visit the dentist than those without coverage. In fact, more than 9 in 10 adults say having dental benefits allows them to have good oral health, brings peace of mind, saves money and helps them live a healthier life, according to research by Delta Dental. 3

The end of the year is often a time when people consider purchasing a dental plan for the upcoming year. Delta Dental of Illinois’ new individual dental plans provide comprehensive coverage for preventive care, as well as coverage for procedures that older adults may need, such as additional cleanings, implants, crowns, and more. For more information and to compare plans, visit

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Dental Association

2 Delta Dental Plans Association, The State of America’s Oral Health Report

3 Delta Dental Plans Association, The State of America’s Oral Health Report