August 16, 2011

Geriatric Dental Needs

As a senior citizen you may face some difficulty with your dental health that you haven’t ever faced or haven’t faced in years.  As we get older, many of us have to take medications to manage our heart health and blood pressure.  Of course, this may not be able to be avoided, however, with the desired effects of certain medications also come some unwanted effects.  Medications can often cause dry mouth.

Dry mouth isn’t just uncomfortable, it also results in a common problem seen in seniors, which is to get tooth decay at the gumline of the teeth.  You see, saliva is actually helpful in keeping tooth decay at bay and when there isn’t enough saliva, dry mouth often results in tooth decay at the gumline and on tooth roots which may now be unprotected because of gum recession. 

If you have dexterity problems or a physical disability, you may find it difficult to hold onto your toothbrush or dental floss.  This can be solved by using a few simple “home remedies” or devices designed to help.  Use a wide elastic band to attach the brush to your hand.  Enlarge the brush handle with a sponge, rubber ball or bicycle handle grip.  Also try winding an elastic bandage or adhesive tape around the handle.

Lengthen the handle with a piece of wood or plastic such as a ruler, popsicle stick or tongue depressor.

Tie floss into a loop for easier handling.

Use an electric toothbrush or commercial floss holder.

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