By Dr. Richard Wolfert, DMD  

The Toothboss,  

It’s no secret that chronic health conditions are prevalent among seniors. Yet how do conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis impact your teeth and overall oral health? There are some things you can to do maintain a healthy mouth despite health challenges like these and others.

The relationship between chronic conditions and oral health

Poor oral health can make existing chronic conditions worse. Conversely, certain medical conditions can also increase the risk of dental problems. For example, if you have diabetes, you are more susceptible to gum disease due to compromised immune function and difficulty controlling blood sugar levels.

Similarly, medications used to manage chronic conditions like high blood pressure or depression can cause side effects like dry mouth, which contributes to tooth decay and oral infections.

Tips for managing oral health with chronic conditions

Regular dental checkups. Regular dental visits are essential if you’re managing chronic conditions, at least every six months. Dentists can monitor oral health status, provide preventive care, and address any emerging issues promptly. Be thorough in communicating your medical history and current medications to your dental provider to ensure comprehensive care.

Maintain blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels is crucial for preventing gum disease. To that end, you want to be diligent in monitoring your blood glucose levels as directed by your healthcare provider. Following a diabetic diet also will help you maintain oral health. Be sure to inform your dentist about your condition.

Practice good oral hygiene. Whether or not you have health challenges, maintaining a consistent oral hygiene routine is paramount for seniors. Brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, floss regularly, and use antimicrobial mouthwash to minimize and prevent dental problems. If you have mobility issues or arthritis, using adaptive dental aids such as electric toothbrushes or flossing devices may be beneficial.

Address dry mouth. Dry mouth, a common side effect of many medications used to manage chronic conditions, can increase the risk of tooth decay and oral infections. To alleviate dry mouth symptoms, individuals can sip water frequently, chew sugar-free gum or candies, and use saliva substitutes as recommended by a healthcare provider.

Collaborate with healthcare providers. Effective management of chronic conditions requires collaboration between you, your dentist, and your healthcare providers. Be sure to inform your dental and medical providers about all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements, to facilitate coordinated care and minimize adverse effects on your oral health.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can support both overall health and oral well-being. This includes following a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, as well as engaging in regular physical activity and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption.


Managing your oral health as well as a chronic condition means being proactive and collaborating with all your healthcare providers. By incorporating preventive measures, maintaining good oral hygiene habits, and addressing specific challenges associated with chronic conditions, you can optimize your oral health and enhance your overall quality of life.

If it’s been a while since you’ve been to the dentist, or are between dentists, please give our office a call at 781-335-0604.

About the Author: Dr. Richard Wolfert, DMD is the owner of The Toothboss, 1121 Main St., South Weymouth. For more information, call 781-335-0604 or visit