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ORAL CARE TIPS FOR THE ELDERLY - Dr. Samuel

April 14 2021

ORAL CARE TIPS FOR THE ELDERLY - Dr. Samuel

Having good oral health is essential at any stage of your life. However, there are some aspects to be aware of when taking care of the elderly.

Just as with children, the elderly are a vulnerable population that requires our attention and special care. As your body grows, it starts developing some conditions and circumstances that weren’t there as young. Your tissues, cells, and systems decrease their effectiveness and response to threads. Thereby, it is easier to develop some diseases if the right measures are not taken into count.  

Whether it be due to systemic diseases or natural aging, they will require your help to improve the chances of having a healthy mouth.

Here, we present you six oral care tips you can take to improve the elderly’s oral health.

Avoid Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is one of the most common oral problems in the elderly. It consists of the lack of saliva and humidity in the mouth due to multiple reasons. Dry mouth is not necessarily entangled in aging but to the frequent systemic conditions and medications that come with age. The previous can alter saliva production, getting the elder’s mouth dry and increasing the risk of cavities and other oral problems.

In these cases, your dentist will make a team effort with your physician to change some medications to improve the moisture. Moreover, you should increase water consumption to keep hydrated.

Brush And Floss Daily

Brushing and flossing are vital to maintaining excellent oral health. Performing complete dental care prevents dental plaque and tartar formation, avoiding decay and gum disease. This is particularly important in the elderly due to the susceptibility that comes with age.

We recommend you brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes, one before breakfast and before going to bed. Also, it is recommendable to use fluoride toothpaste and floss once a day.

Fairywill P80 Electric Toothbrush

Prevent And Address Tooth Loss

Tooth loss is another frequent problem in the elderly population. Although it is preventable with correct oral hygiene, having missing teeth can compromise your diet, sound-making, and aesthetic.

Nonetheless, if you have one or various teeth missing, you should address it with the appropriate dental treatment. Whether it be with dental implants or prostheses, rehabilitating tooth loss can improve your dietary needs, speech, and appearance.

On the other hand, overlooking these problems can compromise your quality of life significantly.

Pay Attention to Mouth Changes

Unfortunately, with age also comes the risk of oral cancer and other buccal lesions. Most oral neoplastic conditions appear after the fourth decade of life, especially if you have risk factors such as bad habits like smoking and drinking and family background.

Thereby, you should care for the following sign or symptoms:

  • Any thrush or ulcer that does not improves after 15 days.
  • Spots in your gums, lips, tongue, or throat that change color from pink to red or white.
  • Lumps or thickness in any area of your mouth.
  • Numbness around your tongue or mucosa.
  • Pain, sore, or uncomfortable feeling in your mouth or teeth.
  • Face or jawbone swellin
  • Stains and patches in your teeth, soft tissues, or tongue.

Although these signs and symptoms are not directly related to oral cancer, they can be associated with multiple oral problems and must be discarded by a professional.

Use The Appropriate Tools 

Muscular weakness is another frequent difficulty that comes with age. Decrease muscular elasticity and tonicity can compromise daily activities like brushing teeth, using dental floss, and even eating. Even though these problems can be mitigated with medications and medical care, you should improve your hygienic habits with the correct dental care tools.

The use of electric toothbrushes can improve the effectiveness of dental plaque removal. As a result, you reduce tartar formation and the risk of gum disease and decay with minor effort.

Furthermore, there are special flossing picks that also aid with the proper flossing technique.

Do Not Overlook Your Dental Treatment

Despite your age, dental treatment is still a fundamental part of your general wellbeing. Contemporary dentistry has multiple alternatives to aborad dental problems, even in the most challenging situations. Moreover, multiple studies have shown that improving dental health in elderly patients can boost their confidence and self-esteem.

 

--- By Dr. Samuel I A Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S) from Central University of Venezuela. He is also the Member of the National College of Dental Surgeon of Venezuela. Boasts almost 10 years experience in general dentistry.

 

References:

- Adachi, M., Ishihara, K., Abe, S., Okuda, K., & Ishikawa, T. (2002). Effect of professional oral health care on the elderly living in nursing homes. Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology, and Endodontics. https://doi.org/10.1067/moe.2002.123493

- Coleman, P. (2002). Improving oral health care for the frail elderly: A review of widespread problems and best practices (CE). Geriatric Nursing. https://doi.org/10.1067/mgn.2002.126964

- Frenkel, H., Harvey, I., & Newcombe, R. G. (2001). Improving oral health in institutionalised elderly people by educating caregivers: a randomised controlled trial. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, 29(4), 289–297. https://doi.org/10.1034/j.1600-0528.2001.290408.x

- Gil-Montoya, José Antonio, de Mello, A. L. F., Barrios, R., Gonzalez-Moles, M. A., & Bravo, M. (2015). Oral health in the elderly patient and its impact on general well-being: A nonsystematic review. In Clinical Interventions in Aging. https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S54630

- Gil-Montoya, Jose Antonio, de Mello, A. L. F., Cardenas, C. B., & Lopez, I. G. (2006). Oral Health Protocol for the Dependent Institutionalized Elderly. Geriatric Nursing. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gerinurse.2005.12.003

- Guiglia, R., Musciotto, A., Compilato, D., Procaccini, M., Russo, L., Ciavarella, D., Muzio, L., Cannone, V., Pepe, I., D’Angelo, M., & Campisi, G. (2010). Aging and Oral Health: Effects in Hard and Soft Tissues. Current Pharmaceutical Design. https://doi.org/10.2174/138161210790883813

- Lazarescu, D., Boccaneala, S., Illiescu, A., & De Boever, J. A. (2003). Efficacy of plaque removal and learning effect of a powered and a manual toothbrush. Journal of Clinical Periodontology. https://doi.org/10.1034/j.1600-051X.2003.00361.x

- Locker, D., Matear, D., Stephens, M., & Jokovic, A. (2002). Oral health-related quality of life of a population of medically compromised elderly people. Community Dental Health.

- Palmer, C. A., & Cheng, Z. (2020). Oral Health and Nutrition. DeckerMed Medicine. https://doi.org/10.2310/IM.9038

- Polzer, I., Schimmel, M., Müller, F., & Biffar, R. (2010). Edentulism as part of the general health problems of elderly adults. International Dental Journal. https://doi.org/10.1922/IDJ-2184Polzer13

- Turner, M. D., & Ship, J. A. (2007). Dry mouth and its effects on the oral health of elderly people. In Journal of the American Dental Association. https://doi.org/10.14219/jada.archive.2007.0358

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