As people get older, oral health becomes more important as elderly people become more at risk to certain dental problems. Also, other medical conditions such as arthritis may contribute to poor oral health as people find it difficult to easily brush or floss their teeth.
The Faculty of Dental Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons estimates that across England, Wales and Northern Ireland at least 1.8 million people aged 65 and over have an urgent dental condition.
We look at oral problems that older people may experience, the ways to prevent such problems and recommended treatments, all of which carers may find useful when looking after their elderly clients.
This is caused by changes to dentin which lies underneath the tooth enamel, thinning of the enamel layer and stains caused by food and drink. However, a darkened tooth could indicate a more serious problem and should always be checked out by a dentist.
Poor oral hygiene or poor fitting dentures can lead to a build of the fungus Candida which can lead to the inflammation of the mouth tissue underneath the dentures.
Treatment can be given by an antifungal medication. Improving dental hygiene, such as proper cleaning of dentures, the mouth and not wearing dentures at night can also help reduce the risk of stomatitis.
Root decay and gum disease
Root decay can be caused by the tooth root being exposed to decay-causing acids as the gum recedes from the teeth. Gum disease can be caused by plaque and can also be caused by poor dental hygiene, ill-fitting dentures, poor diet, smoking and certain diseases such as diabetes.
Both root decay and gum disease can be prevented with a good oral hygiene routine.
Keeping a person’s pearly whites healthy
To keep a sparkly smile and ensure good oral health just follow a simple dental routine that includes 4 easy steps:
- Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste – to remove plaque, the main cause of tooth decay and gum diseases
- Regularly floss between teeth and under the gum line to remove plaque, that if hardens forms tartar which can only be removed by a dentist
- Limit sugary and starchy foods and reduce snacking in between meals
- Make regular trips to the dentist for cleaning and check-ups – generally every 6 months
And if you look after someone who wears dentures…
- Brush dentures after use and store them correctly, either in water or a denture cleaning solution
- Always brush gums, the tongue and the roof of the mouth every morning with a soft brush before inserting dentures – this increases circulation in your tissues and helps to remove plaque
Care Management software such as CareLineLive’s Family & Friends Portal enables Carers to easily communicate any issues with regards to their loved one’s dental care, so if there was a need to get a dentist appointment organised close relatives can be notified quickly and easily.
In the UK, some older people may be entitled to free dental care if they receive Pension Credit, click here for more information.
As well as the general health of our elderly population, it is so important that oral health is also taken seriously, and a good dental hygiene routine is followed to help reduce the risk of oral health problems.