The link between oral health and general health is important. Problems with teeth, gums and dentures can significantly affect the overall wellbeing of an older person.
Taking medications and other general health conditions can impact on a person’s oral health. It is important for older people to maintain good oral hygiene practices, including those who wear dentures.
Eat well – Healthy eating can play a large role in improving the oral health of older people. A nutritious diet including fruit, vegetables, grains and cereals, dairy, lean meat, fish and eggs is important. Highly processed foods and foods containing added sugars should be limited, especially between meals. If eating sweet or sticky foods, they are best eaten at meal times to reduce the chance of decay
Clean well – Brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day can help to control plaque build up. If possible, using dental floss or tape will help clean between the teeth. In cases where manual tooth brushing is not possible (due to physical or other constraints), seek the advice of a dental professional about recommended strategies.
Caring for dentures – Dentures should be cleaned after meals to keep them free from food particles and plaque. Brush both the inside and outside with a mild soap. Remove dentures overnight to allow the mouth to rest, storing them in a glass of cold water.
Drink plenty of tap water.
Sweet, sugary drinks such as fruit juices should be limited – especially between meals.
Fluoride protects teeth from dental caries and has beneficial effects throughout life. Using fluoride toothpaste and drinking tap water (especially in areas with fluoridated water supplies) will help protect teeth from decay.
Stay well – Regular checkups and cleaning by a dental professional can assist in preventing oral disease. It is important that older people (especially those on medications) have regular mouth checks. You should discuss any questions you may have with your dentist or other oral health professional.
Caring for older people with dementia – People with dementia are more prone to dental problems due to reasons such as taking sugar-based medications, reduced saliva production and altered eating habits. As dementia progresses, people may have difficulty managing their oral health. It is important that older people have regular mouth checks.
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