Tips for helping senior patients care for their teeth

There comes a time when the loved ones who taught us how to tie our shoes, comb our hair and cross the street may need our help with some of those same tasks.  And while dealing with this new normal can be a learning experience for everyone involved, there are a few simple suggestions and products available that can help make keeping their mouths healthy one less thing to worry about.

Some older patients may have worn dentures for decades and have no natural teeth, while others may have almost all or all of their own teeth. Regardless of their individual situation, the first step in ensuring good oral health is to schedule an appointment with a dental professional. At Just Wright Dental, we would perform a comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s mouth and teeth.

If the patient no longer has natural teeth and wears dentures, we would evaluate the patient’s mouth and gums. We would also evaluate the patient’s current dentures to ensure a proper fit and that they were not causing sore spots or areas of irritation. This comprehensive evaluation provides the caregiver with a detailed look at any problems or potential problems, and also offers a clearer picture of the patient’s overall oral health. More times than not, a professional cleaning by one of our gentle and thorough hygienists is also recommended at the same time.

Once problems have been identified and a plan established to take care of any issues, helping to create or maintain good oral health habits at home is the next priority. Our hygienists can show patients and their caregivers the best ways to address specific problems, but in general there are a few ways to make home care a bit easier.

The first is to identify the most comfortable and easiest place to brush each day. For most of us that’s the bathroom, but with older patients, it may be the kitchen or dining room. Often, it’s easier for these patients to sit at a table next to a bowl of water, rather than stand at a sink. For patients who are unable to brush and floss without help, it’s important that their caregiver find a position that is comfortable for both parties either behind or sitting in front of the patient so that all of their teeth can be seen and reached.

For older patients who are able to brush and floss by themselves, it is often helpful to look for larger handled toothbrushes. Electric toothbrushes, such as a Sonicare, are excellent because of their over-sized handle and ease of use. If traditional floss is difficult to use, floss holders or flossing picks may be a more manageable solution.

Denture-wearing patients can gently brush their gums and tongue to freshen breath and remove bacteria. They should also make sure they rise their dentures and keep them free from food and debris daily, and following the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning and soaking.

If you or someone you know is responsible for an older loved one’s care, call us today and let us help with keeping his or her oral health at its best.

Dr. Justin Wright is a general dentist in Corsicana with an affinity for implant dentistry and bow fishing. When he’s not regaling his patients of his outdoor exploits, he’s spending time with his wife Jenni and their two young sons, Cooper and Cy. To learn more about his practice or how he and his team can help you or your family keep your smiles healthy, call 903-225-2330 or visit www.justwrightdental.com