Registered dental hygienists and other health-care
professionals can offer older adults and their caregivers
advice about coping with:
z Limited dexterity: how to use special toothbrushes, picks,
z Dry mouth: special toothpastes and mouth rinses to combat
dry mouth, which is a side effect of many medications.
z Cognitive challenges: training and guidance for helping
individuals “retrieve” their skills. People with dementia have
increased risk for dental decay, periodontal disease and
z Financial support: dental care coverage for which seniors
may be eligible (see page 31).
z House-bound individuals: accessing dental hygienists who
make house calls (see page 31).
Oral health care after 60
z Care for your mouth daily
z Keep up regular dental appointments
z Use fluoridated mouthwash and toothpaste
z Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about other products
that can strengthen enamel and root surfaces
z Ask about fluoride varnish applications
z Watch dietary choices and avoid sugary snacks and drinks
z Keep your mouth plaque-free
z Avoid using tobacco or excessive alcohol
z Ask about saliva substitutes for dry mouth.
YOURS FOR LIFE
Good oral health habits help you keep your teeth
Today’s aging baby boomers have taken a bite out of the
assumption that as you age you will lose teeth and end up with
“Not many years ago, many seniors had to face the challenges
of using full or partial dentures,” says Arlynn Brodie, assistant
clinical professor, Dental Hygiene Program, University of
Alberta. “Today, seniors benefit from the use of fluoride, daily
brushing and regular dental hygiene appointments. This is
helping them keep their natural teeth for a lifetime.”
Teresa Bateman, director of Professional Practice with the
College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta, says it is
important for nurses to learn from dental hygienists to improve
care for older adults’ oral health.
Research shows that improved oral health care for elderly
people reduces the risk of aspiration pneumonia. Oral hygiene
strategies used by seniors in hospitals and nursing homes can
reduce the incidence of pneumonia.
“Aging doesn’t have to mean bad breath, bad teeth or dentures,”
Brodie says. “However, oral care has to be adapted to each new
stage of life.”