For carers or family members:
- Inform the Dentist of any changes to the patient’s mouth or to their Medical History.
- Assist the Dentist when they are showing the patient how to care for their teeth as the patient will feel more comfortable if you are involved.
At home care:
- Show the patient how to brush their teeth, use their hand to demonstrate the process. This helps with learning but also makes them feel more comfortable.
- Teach them about Denture care.
- Teach them how to floss or how to use an alternative.
For the patient:
- Try to clean your teeth twice per day with a manual or an electric toothbrush
- Try to floss once per day. For those finding it hard to floss there are many different products you can purchase. These include: Piksters or an electric flosser (more details further in this article).
- Attend your Dental appointments. Make sure you are going regularly as per your Dentist’s instruction.
- Using mouth washes and rinses to aid in cleaning the teeth.
- Avoiding bottled water. Drink water containing Fluoride (tap water).
Advancing age puts many seniors at risk for a number of oral health problems, such as:
Darkened teeth– As you age the outer layer of enamel on your teeth gets worn away revealing the natural yellow colour of dentin. It is also caused by consuming certain foods and drinks such as coffee, tea and fruits.
Dry mouth- Dry mouth is caused by reduced saliva flow, which can be a result of cancer treatments that use radiation to the head and neck area, as well as certain diseases and medication side effects. Many medicines can cause dry mouth.
Root decay- This is caused by exposure of the tooth root to decay-causing acids. The tooth roots become exposed as gum tissue recedes from the tooth. Roots do not have any enamel to protect them and are more prone to decay than the crown part of the tooth.
Gum disease- Caused by plaque and made worse by food left in teeth, use of tobacco products, poor-fitting bridges and dentures, poor diets, and certain diseases, such as cancer and diabetes. This is often a problem for older adults.
Tooth loss- Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss.
Uneven jawbone- This is caused by removing a tooth and then not replacing it. This allows the rest of the teeth to drift and shift into open spaces.
FAQ’s from Seniors about Dental Care
Is an electric toothbrush better than a manual toothbrush?
Whilst both types of toothbrushes adequately clean the teeth an electric toothbrush comes in handy if you have poor manual dexterity.
What if I can’t or find it hard to floss?
Some people find it difficult to floss daily. Are there are other alternatives to flossing? What if there are easier ways to floss daily and keep the teeth and gums healthy? Such alternatives will not be as effective as old-fashioned flossing but at least they will contribute to having cleaner and bacteria-fee mouth.
Alternatives to Flossing
Oral-B Hummingbird Electric Flosser
This is an electric flossing tool that gently vibrates to massage the gums while cleaning the teeth at the same time. This is an excellent flossing tool especially for those lacking in hand dexterity. One hand can manage the flossing tool.
Toothpick & soft picks
You’ve heard about these before. Because this is the traditional toothpick used to rid the teeth off with food debris or particles. It is easy to use and can remove large food debris and also stimulates blood flow. Care should be taken not to poke or injure the gums and the inside of the mouth
Waterpik Ultra Water Flosser
The Waterpik Ultra water Flosser is an alternative to flossing for those who don’t like flossing or for those who don’t floss regularly. They are very easy to use. Just point the Flosser tip between your teeth and along the gum line, and let it do all the work for you.
Water Flossing takes only a minute a day, making it easy to improve your Oral Health. The Waterpik Water Flosser removes the plaque and debris deep between teeth and below the gum line.
How often should I clean my teeth?
You should be cleaning your teeth twice per day. You should brush your teeth in the morning and before bed (or after last meal).
My teeth are sensitive, what can I do?
Many people suffer sensitivity of the teeth. Some people have one or two teeth that cause irritation and some people’s teeth are sensitive in general. You can use specific toothpastes that reduce sensitivity that can also be smeared on the teeth before sleeping.
I have arthritis in my hands and find it difficult to clean my teeth. What can assist me?
For those suffering from arthritis, items such as Piksters (to floss) and electric toothbrushes can be used to assist Oral Hygiene care.