Dental hygiene for seniors

Mar 6, 2018
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Dental hygiene for seniorsDental hygiene for seniors

Although tooth loss increases with age, the main cause is not age-related. Periodontal diseases and root caries are the main culprits. Fortunately, with improved oral hygiene and regular visits, seniors now have the opportunity to keep their natural teeth healthy throughout their lives.

Food

As with any age, it is appropriate for seniors to consume enough dairy products and each of the food groups.

Oral hygiene

It is important to maintain good daily oral hygiene by brushing with a soft bristle brush and a fluoride toothpaste. When motor skills are reduced, the toothbrush can be adapted to ensure better grip and the use of an electric toothbrush can sometimes help.

No brush can reach the contacts between the teeth and the space between the gum and the tooth. Because cavities and gum disease can develop, only dental floss can complete the cleaning of these surfaces. The market offers a wide variety of wire carriers that simplify this task. The cracks in the tongue contain dead cells, biofilm (dental plaque) and food debris that can only be removed with a toothbrush or tongue cleaner.

Visit to the dental hygienist

Visits every six or twelve months, to the dental hygienist, can detect beginner caries, gum disease and other oral diseases (defective fillings, oral lesions, etc.). It is important for you to mention all your health problems, medications used, diseases diagnosed, symptoms, etc. The advice, the preventive methods, the proposed treatments and the frequency of the visits will thus be personalized according to each one.

Periodontal diseases (gums and bones of the tooth support)

In the beginning phase, gum disease is often painless and not easily detectable by yourself. Early detection and management can prevent the progression of inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) to the tooth support (periodontitis). The loss of estrogen from the post-menopause causes a loss of bone density that can accentuate the predisposition to periodontitis. Untreated periodontitis results in bone resorption and may worsen until tooth loss. The control of periodontal diseases preserves the dentition and also helps prevent the progression or complications of other diseases (eg diabetes).

Many studies show that microorganisms in periodontal disease can migrate into the bloodstream and be involved in heart disease, stroke and lung disease.

Dental hypersensitivity

Gingival recessions and tooth wear (attrition, abrasion or erosion) cause exposure of tooth surfaces with narrower nerve endings (cementum and dentin). This often causes the hypersensitivity of the teeth to hot, cold, sweet, citrus acidity, brushing, pressure and touch. The dental hygienist can help you identify the cause and advise you on excellent solutions.

Removable dentures

Removable dentures (partial or complete) should be brushed after each meal with a soft brush. It is advisable to remove them at least four hours a day, massage the gums with a soft toothbrush and clean the tongue. Poor hygiene and the presence of microscopic fungi, such as Candida albicans, can cause inflammation of the tissues under the prosthesis (prosthetic stomatitis). The continuous wearing of the prosthesis aggravates this type of inflammation.

There are several factors that can affect mouth retention of prostheses (dry mouth, osteoporosis of the jaw bone, weight loss, etc.). Poor retention leads to premature resorption of the bone, and difficulty chewing can lead to digestive disorders. The annual office visit is desirable in order, among other things, to check and correct the fit of the prostheses. Nonprescription adhesive products in pharmacy are only a temporary solution.

During an extended stay in an establishment, it may be appropriate to engrave on the prostheses the name and first name of the wearer.

Halitosis (bad breath)

Halitosis can be occasional or chronic, that is, it persists despite good oral hygiene. Hormonal changes, medical problems or medications can alter your breath. However, the most common causes come from the oral cavity: poor hygiene, dental problems (eg tooth decay, abscess, gum disease, etc.), dry mouth, certain foods, alcohol, tobacco, etc. Good daily oral hygiene, healthy lifestyle habits and professional cleaning and care in the office eliminate many of the causes of halitosis.

Xerostomia (dry mouth)

With its antibacterial and antifungal properties, saliva also regulates oral pH. The decrease in saliva therefore creates discomfort and deprives precious natural protection against oral diseases. In some cases, the use of saliva substitute or fluoride may be beneficial. Xerostomia is caused by a variety of factors: medical conditions, medication, hormonal changes, radiotherapy, etc.

Smoking

You may be part of the 75% of smokers who want to quit this habit but need help. Like all health professionals, the dental hygienist has information on this subject (documentation, help centers, etc.). And, as the very first signs of the harmful effects of tobacco are manifested at the level of the mouth, the smoker will be informed of its oral state.

Oral cancer

The predisposition to oral cancer is more pronounced from the age of 45 and the main risk factors are smoking, alcohol, sun, a poor diet, heredity, etc. Cancers of the mouth and throat have the particularity to evolve quickly and be fatal if they are not detected early. Regularly check the inside of your mouth and consult your professionals every year.

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DISCLAIMER : “Views expressed above are the author’s.”



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