How do I maintain good oral health in old age?

Apr 05 , 2021


Reinaldo Garcia

How do I maintain good oral health in old age?

With proper home care and regular dental check-ups, teeth can last a lifetime. Regardless of your age, keep your teeth and gums healthy by brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash, flossing daily, and visiting the dentist regularly for professional cleanings and check-ups.

During the elderly, you may face changes in your oral health, even if you brush and floss regularly. The use of dental prostheses, taking medications and general health disorders are often common in the elderly. Fortunately, your dentist and physician can help you meet most of these challenges successfully.

Good oral hygiene can prevent most dental diseases in the elderly.
Here are some tips that you should keep in mind to take care of the oral health of the elderly:

1) Educate the elderly and caregiver
It is very important that family members, with the support of caregivers, establish proper care for the oral health of the elderly. Contrary to popular belief, dental care for the elderly is not just a matter for dentists; family members should discuss oral health closely with their caregivers. Learning what habits can contribute to the oral health of the elderly will help improve knowledge about dental care and prevent disease.

2) Select the right toothbrush
In the market there are a wide variety of shapes, sizes and models of toothbrushes, however, when choosing one for the elderly, its functionality must be taken into account and that it has soft bristles. It is very important that the toothbrush be replaced when its bristles wear out or after three months of use. Likewise, it must be replaced in case the older adult has suffered a cold since the filaments accumulate germs that can cause a new infection.

3) Use fluoride toothpaste
Fluoride plays a fundamental role in dental health as it helps prevent cavities and decalcification, its function is to strengthen tooth enamel and increase the remineralization process, thus preventing tooth decay. It is important to note that regardless of the taste of fluoride toothpaste, it should always be spit out, since no type of toothpaste has been made to be swallowed. Always use fluoride toothpastes that have the approval of the Ecuadorian Dental Federation or trusted brands.

4) brush three times a day
Brushing should be done at least 30 minutes after eating food and especially before going to sleep, since it is while sleeping that there is little saliva production in the mouth, which favors the development of bacteria and plaque.

5) Clean the removable dental prosthesis
Maintaining a good cleaning of the removable dental prosthesis is vital to maintain the good oral health of the elderly. For this purpose, you could use a prosthesis brush (or stiff bristles), liquid dish soap, effervescent tablets for cleaning the prosthesis and a container where the prosthesis can fit for cleaning with warm water. Hygiene achieves the elimination of both soft and calcified residues and also their disinfection, reducing the possibility of irritation of the mucosa and cavities.

6) Massage the oral mucosa
The oral mucosa should be massaged with the toothbrush during hygiene in those areas covered by the prosthesis to stimulate blood supply.

7) Remove the dental prosthesis overnight
If it is not a fixed implant, it is recommended to keep the prosthesis in water overnight to avoid dehydration and dimensional changes. Dental prostheses must be changed every 5 years due to changes in bone tissue that alter adaptation.

8) Use gauze
If it is impossible for the elderly to brush their teeth or rinse their mouth, you can use a moistened gauze to remove food debris from teeth and gums.

9) No smoking
If you smoke, quit because this practice exacerbates the problems of gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.

10) Visit the Dentist
It is recommended that the older adult visit the dentist every 6 months or when necessary. Regular visits can help detect dental problems early and start treatment promptly.
It is important to take care of the oral health of the elderly person so as not to affect their psychosocial sphere, since otherwise their ability to speak, smile and socialize would be limited.

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