Senior Dental Health

Oral health in Older peopleSenior Oral Health

Recent surveys show that ninety percent of adults have, on average, 23.5 teeth. Almost a third of adults have all 28 teeth, and fifty percent age 55 and older wear partial or complete dentures. But whether caring for original teeth or dentures, seniors face a range of special oral concerns, including root decay and periodontal disease. You can keep your smile healthy by following a routine of proper oral care and making regular visits to your registered dental hygienist and dentist. If you have arthritis or limited use of your hands, try adapting the toothbrush for easy use. Insert the handle into a rubber ball or sponge hair curler; or glue the toothbrush handle into a bicycle grip. Toothbrush handles can be lengthened with a piece of wood or plastic such as a ruler, ice cream bar stick or tongue depressor. For people who have dexterity problems and cannot use a manual toothbrush, an electric toothbrush may be easier to use. Numerous studies confirm that electric brushes are excellent plaque removing devices and are extremely effective in stimulating gums. Dental floss holders are also available. Among other benefits, daily brushing and flossing protect older smiles from two common problems of getting older: Root decay–a condition that affects older adults if a great amount of root surfaces are exposed–and tooth decay caused by the weakening or chipping of older fillings.

Denture care and cleaning

Dentures—full or partial—should be brushed daily with a soft toothbrush or denture cleaning brush, using a commercially prepared denture powder or paste, hand soap, or baking soda. Toxic or abrasive household cleaners should never be used. Dentures should be brushed inside and outside, and rinsed with cool water. Remaining natural teeth and gums, especially those teeth supporting a partial denture, should also be brushed. When not in use, dentures should be covered with water or a denture cleaning solution to prevent drying.