, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 1–10 | Cite as

Oral health in geroscience: animal models and the aging oral cavity

  • Jonathan Y. An
  • Richard Darveau
  • Matt Kaeberlein
Review Article


Age is the single greatest risk factor for many diseases, including oral diseases. Despite this, a majority of preclinical oral health research has not adequately considered the importance of aging in research aimed at the mechanistic understanding of oral disease. Here, we have attempted to provide insights from animal studies in the geroscience field and apply them in the context of oral health research. In particular, we discuss the relationship between the biology of aging and mechanisms of oral disease. We also present a framework for defining and utilizing age-appropriate rodents and present experimental design considerations, such as the number of age-points used and the importance of genetic background. While focused primarily on rodent models, alternative animal models that may be particularly useful for studies of oral health during aging, such as companion dogs and marmoset monkeys, are also discussed. We hope that such information will aid in the design of future preclinical studies of geriatric dental health, thus allowing more reliability for translation of such studies to age-associated oral disease in people.


Dentistry Periodontal disease Rapamycin mTOR Mice Dogs Marmosets Dry mouth Oral cancer Hallmarks of aging Xerostomia Oral microbiome Inflammation 



JA was supported by the NIH/NIDCR F30DE027254, the ARCS Foundation, and the Magnuson Scholarship. This work was supported by a Glenn Award to MK from the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research. The authors thank Alessandro Bitto, Silvan Urfer, and Matthew An for reading the manuscript and for giving critical comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© American Aging Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Oral Health SciencesUniversity of Washington School of DentistrySeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PathologyUniversity of Washington School of MedicineSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Department of PeriodonticsUniversity of Washington School of DentistrySeattleUSA

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