Oral Care for the Older Person

Nowadays, we are living longer lives and good oral health is essential for healthy ageing, eating, speaking, smiling and communicating with our families and friends as we grow older. (WHO, 2020). As we age, some common conditions or issues that can arise are receding gums, tooth loss, wear and tear, teeth staining and sensitive teeth. Therefore, we need to pay more attention to our oral health routine, as we age. 

Dental Visits: 

It is important to attend a dentist once a year as an older person. Your dentist will be able to check for signs of tooth decay, gum disease and mouth cancer. 

Oral Care as an Older Person:

Continue to brush your teeth, twice daily with a pea sized amount of toothpaste which contains fluoride of 1,450ppm. Ensure that after brushing, we spit out excess toothpaste but never rinse. This keeps fluoride at a high level in saliva and will help protect your teeth. Use is a soft bristled toothbrush hard brushes damage your teeth and gums. If an older person suffers with manual dexterity when doing activities of daily living, such as toothbrushing, an electric toothbrush or a Dr.Barman’s Superbrush may prove more beneficial to ensure that the back teeth are cleaned effectively. In addition to brushing your teeth, clean between your teeth and remove plaque biofilm and food debris.

Your dentist or other dental staff will show you how to do this with small special brushes you can buy in a supermarket or pharmacy. You can use a tongue scraper ( cleaner) or toothbrush to  clean your tongue daily. A flavourless toothpaste can be used for sore mouth after chemotherapy these are available from pharmacies.

Diet & Nutrition of an Older Person:

 

There is no special diet to be consumed by an older person, it remains the same as adults of any age. Ensure a balanced diet is consumed of protein, healthy fats, wholegrain carbohydrates and fruit and vegetables. If you have difficulty eating a normal diet because of tooth loss or a sore mouth consult a nutritionist who will help you to overcome any deficiencies that might develop. Loss of taste may happen as we get older so try to avoid foods with high sugar and high salt content. Eat fruit with natural sugars and use other seasonings to improve taste. Drink  8-10 glasses of water a day to keep hydrated and also assist with saliva production. 

Medications & Oral Health:

Some medications may cause dry mouth. This may lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Avoid this by sipping water frequently during the day and your dentist may prescribe high dose fluoride toothpaste.  Other medications such as, laxatives or cough syrups tend to be high in sugar and should be taken at a specific time during the day such as after a meal and combine this with a mouth cleaning.

Denture Care: 

Full Denture Care

  • Clean your dentures over a bowl of water or a sink full of water.
  • Use a special denture brush to clean your dentures before soaking them, to help remove bits of food.
  • Use a denture cleaner and denture brush/nailbrush to remove stubborn stains. (Follow manufacturer’s instructions.)
  • Use a soft toothbrush to clean the tongue and soft tissues.
  • Leave dentures out at night to allow gums to heal.
  • Store dentures in water overnight to protect from drying out. This will reduce fungal infections and warping of denture.

Partial Denture Care

  • Remove partial denture after eating and rinse under running water.
  • Clean all the surfaces of the denture, including clasps and the surface which fits against your gums.
  • Clean your own teeth by brushing for two minutes twice a day with a soft brush and use interdental cleaners, like floss, if directed by your dentist.
  • Cleaning products can damage metal dentures, so talk to your dental team about how to clean them.
  • Do not soak dentures with metal attachments in solutions that contain chlorine, because it can tarnish and corrode the metal.

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