Friday, June 29, 2018

Oral health for seniors

Dental Hygienist Jenna Simmons
Jenna Simmons, Alberta Health Services - Healthy teeth lead to a healthier well being! It is common for people to keep their own teeth as a result of more access to care, more education and more advances in professional services. In Canada, dental care is mainly privately funded. Financial challenges are often a concern when it comes to seniors visiting the dentist. Oral care is postponed for many people. Overall health is directly connected to oral health. Periodontal disease, cavities, lack of proper nutrition and poorly fitted dentures are among some of the most common problems seen by health care providers. There are many factors that place seniors at high risk for an unhealthy mouth.

Xerostomia (Dry mouth) can be caused by several medications. Saliva helps wash food and bacteria out of your mouth. Dry mouth can also cause an acidic mouth to not be neutralized quickly, which places people at a very high risk for cavities. Saliva substitutes such as biotene can be purchased for comfort. Drinking water is extremely important. Also chewing sugar free gum and mints can help to stimulate saliva. Any products with Xylitol are great for this as it helps keep your mouth at a healthy pH and prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth.

Root decay occurs on receding gums that expose the root surface of the tooth. This root surface is weaker and more prone to cavities. It is important to ask your dental professional about having fluoride varnish applied to your teeth during dental visits. Daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste and a soft toothbrush as well as flossing is also important. Rinsing with a fluoride mouth rinse can also help. It is also important to avoid drinking or eating for 30 minutes after using any fluoride products so that they can do there job in strengthening teeth. Plaque removal is most important for preventing decay. If you feel like dexterity is an issue for you, it may be helpful to use an electric toothbrush. Choosing foods that are low in sugar are also very important for keeping cavities away. Snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables are also important because they are full of water and vitamins and lower the chance of tooth decay.

In addition, periodontal disease is a common disease. It is caused by poor oral hygiene and bacteria. Periodontal disease can be maintained by brushing and flossing. It is also important to have frequent dental cleanings. Periodontal disease can be linked to other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes so it is not something that should be ignored.

Denture care is important in keeping a healthy mouth. Taking dentures out at night will allow tissues under the denture to heal and will also put you at lower risk for fungal infections. Brushing and cleaning dentures daily is also necessary in preventing disease. Ill-fitting dentures may heighten the problems. It is important that if a denture does not fit that it is adjusted by your denturist. Consult your dentist if you are worried or having problems with your dentures. Dentures that fit will ensure that diets are not being altered to accommodate a denture and people are getting the proper nutrition they need for a healthy life.

Most importantly having regular dental and dental hygiene visits can prevent oral disease. Prevention is key to keeping a healthy mouth.

Alberta Seniors Benefits are available for eligible residents in Alberta over the age of 65. For more information visit this link  or contact 1-877-644-9992.

Jenna Simmons is a Dental Hygienist with Alberta Health Services and can be reached by e-mail,

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