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What Causes the Mouth to Look Sunken As We Age?

author image Susan Brassard
Susan Brassard writes about natural health-related topics, complementary and alternative medicine and issues relative to a holistic approach to the aging process. Following a career in business and finance, she obtained a Master of Arts in gerontology and several certifications in energy therapies. She is the author of a workbook and resource guide for older adults.
What Causes the Mouth to Look Sunken As We Age?
A senior having a check-up at a dental clinic. Photo Credit: Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images

While it is natural to lose some muscle tone and acquire a few age-related wrinkles on your cheeks and around your lips, a sunken mouth and receding jaw line is not a normal part of the aging process. Lifestyle choices such as smoking and poor dental hygiene have a direct affect on the health of your gums, teeth and jaw. With proper nutrition, daily oral care and regular dental checkups, it is possible to keep a healthy mouthful of teeth and a jaw line that will continue to support your mouth and lower face well into old age.

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Bone Loss

Women diagnosed with osteoporosis are more susceptible to tooth loss, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease. And regardless of sex, a damaged or missing tooth can cause infection that, if ignored, can spread to the tooth root and contribute to bone loss. To maintain the integrity of your jaw line, missing teeth should be replaced with a removable or permanent appliance, a crown or dental implant.

Poor Denture Fit

A sunken upper lip, jaw line and wrinkles around your mouth and cheeks might mean it is time to replace your dentures. Properly fitting dentures provide support for your cheeks, lips and facial muscles and enhance your smile and appearance. A well-fitted set of dentures should last for approximately five years, according to the West Vancouver Denture Clinic in British Columbia.

Gum Disease

Excessive bacteria, inflammation and infection deteriorate the gums and surrounding tissue around the teeth. Receding gums gradually move away from the teeth and create pockets that hold infection and increase inflammation. Untreated, gum disease contributes to tooth loss and can affect the rate of bone loss in the jaw line that results in a sunken mouth and jaw line.


Although aging is inevitable, a nutritious diet, daily brushing and flossing, routine visits to your dentist and prompt treatment of dental problems will help to maintain a strong jaw line that supports your mouth and lower face structure. Consult with your dentist if you experience any problems with bleeding gums, loose teeth or have difficulty chewing food; indications that suggest a change in your oral health.

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