Elderly couple smiling at each other

Lifelong smiles — oral health for the elderly

The better you take care of your teeth, the longer they’ll last.

So with the right cleaning regime and dental support, there’s no reason you can’t keep your teeth for life.

But as more of us live longer, and age-associated conditions make it tougher to keep on top of dental hygiene, older people and those around them need to be particularly proactive.

Here’s some useful information on maintaining lifelong smiles.

Common problems

According to the Oral Health Foundation, older people sometimes have the following teeth troubles:

  • Gums may recede, making teeth more sensitive. A dentist or hygienist can suggest alterations to the brushing regime and a mouthwash to mitigate against this
  • Declining manual dexterity and eyesight problems might make brushing trickier — brighter lights and a magnified mirror can help
  • People with bridges and dentures might find taking care of them increasingly tough — dental staff can provide advice on alternative methods
  • Medication can cause dry mouth and a lack of saliva means there’s less protection against decay. Artificial saliva is available over the counter, but dentists can advise on other options

The following tips are recommended:

  • Prevent gum disease by removing dentures at night and at one other time during the day
  • Floss or use interdental brushes once a day to keep spaces between teeth spotless
  • Cut down on sugary snacks like boiled sweets
  • Attend regular dentist appointments

Dementia

Tooth decay and gum disease is particularly prevalent in people suffering from dementia. For those afflicted, this might be one of several daily activities the condition makes difficult or they may not verbalise problems with toothache, meaning it goes untreated.

Please take a look at this tooth care guidance from Dementia UK to stay informed.

Care home residents

National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) statistics indicate that over half of older adults living in care homes have tooth decay, compared with 40 per cent of over 75s who don’t.

If you live in a care home or have a friend or relative who does, check that the manager is following this care home oral health advice from NICE — the Care Quality Commission expects them to do so.

At Artis Dental & Implant Studio, we’re dedicated to ensuring that our dentistry services protect health and promote dignity for patients of all ages.

If you’d like to chat more about oral care for elderly people, please call us on 0131 466 8206.

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