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Seniors and oral care what you should know


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Oral Health & Aging

How your teeth age depends on how well you’ve been taking care of them. Older adults need to remember that taking care of your oral health goes beyond just detecting cavities! Prevention of gum and bone disease are often overlooked, but are a vital part of your overall health.

Here are a few tips to help maintain the health of your teeth and gums:

- Brush your natural and any false teeth twice a day
- Use a fluoridated toothpaste
- Floss once a day, especially under any prosthetic teeth.
- Visit your dentist at least every 6 months and remember to bring a list of your medications with you
- Visit your dentist if there are any lesions in your mouth that persist over 2 weeks

Are you having difficulty with your manual dexterity?

If so, here are a few tips:

- Attempt to use an electric toothbrush with a large handle
- Try to enlarge the handle of your existing toothbrush by attaching a tennis ball, sponge foam, or bicycle grip to it
- Help keep the toothbrush in your hand with elastics or Velcro straps

Denture Care:

- Always brush your denture over a sink, to minimize any damage in case it’s dropped
- Brush your denture with a small amount of liquid hand soap
- Store your denture in a dry place in a labelled container
- Wet your denture with water prior to inserting it for more comfort

Ill-fitting Dentures:

Your denture was custom-made specifically for you. A denture does not change it’s shape or size; however, the surrounding gums and bone structure do change with time. As a result, a denture that may have fit perfectly some years ago may be in need of some fine-tuning. If you find that your denture just doesn’t fit right any more, pay a visit to your dentist so that adjustments can be made to improve its fit. In an emergency, you can use denture adhesive as a quick fix until you can come in for an appointment.

I have dentures. I don’t need to go to the dentist …. Right?

Even if you have lost all your teeth, it’s still important to visit us regularly to check for diseases that can develop in the soft tissues (such as oral cancer). Your visit will include and examination from the neck up to address any issues with your jaw joint, tongue, roof of your mouth and surrounding soft tissues. Most diseases are treatable if found in the early stages.

Why does my mouth feel dry?

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, can develop due to lack of saliva. Dry mouth can lead to difficulty speaking, eating, tasting, and even in the simple task of swallowing. Furthermore, it can also lead to bad breath and an increase in the number of cavities! Saliva is imperative in maintaining your oral health as it helps moisten your mouth and wash away food. It also serves to neutralize the acids that are produced by plaque (bacteria) that can cause cavities. If you minimize the amount of saliva that is present in the mouth, you are definitely increasing your risk of cavities.

Dry mouth can be caused by certain medical conditions, as well as a long list of medications.

Management of Xerostomia:

- Talk to your doctor to determine if a medication you are taking may be causing your dry mouth. If so, with your doctor’s guidance, you may be able to try a different medication.
- Drink 8 cups of water a day
- Limit your alcohol
- Do not use alcohol-based rinses, as they can further dry your mouth
- Try using Biotene toothpaste/mouthwash to help improve the moisture
- Chew xylitol-containing gum to increase salivary production and reduce your rate of cavities.
- See your dentist at least every six months to help remove the high recurrence of dental plaque resulting from dry mouth and detect cavities in their earlier stages.

Ask us for more information about the interactions between your medications, medical conditions and your oral health.