Best Practices in Geriatric Oral Care

I wasn’t always the Geriatric Tooth fairy. This superpower and passion took some time to brew and develop.

I had a rough upbringing, but there were subtle rays of light that lit up my life every summer that I spent with my grandmother, who I affectionately called “Madea.” She was not “just” my grandmother; she was my mentor, aspiration, my everything.

I mean, how many teens do you know enjoy the company of someone who is 40 years older than them? Well, I did, and so did many of my friends. She was that FUN!

When I got my red 1982 Ford Escort at the age of sixteen, I would go pick Madea up, and we would hang out, laugh, and talk. She instilled so much wisdom in me. Though her delivery was not as formal as this is, I would like to impart some of those golden nuggets of infinite wisdom to you.

Before you enter into the world of dental treatment for seniors, knowledge, and wonder, preparation is needed. You must become acquainted with specific older adult knowledge and practices that improve the oral health of seniors. That’s why I give talks and have written a book on the oral health care of seniors.

In this blog entry, I will focus on two practices that will improve dental services for seniors: The use of fluoride to boost oral health and preventative practice.

Use of Fluoride to Boost Oral Health of Seniors

Tooth enamel is made of hydroxyapatite, a structure consisting of calcium and phosphate. When the PH levels in the mouth are high, the structure of the teeth will remain strong.

But if the PH levels drop too low, the demineralization process begins. That’s when calcium and phosphate leave the tooth and it becomes vulnerable to decay.

Seniors are especially vulnerable to decay. Studies show that 93% of seniors who are aged 65 or over have had dental caries at some point.

Fortunately, using fluoride can stop or reverse tooth demineralization to prevent tooth decay.

Fluoride aids in remineralization by attaching itself to calcium and phosphate molecules in the mouth and preventing their escape.  

Since elders are vulnerable to tooth decay, it is important to use fluoride when offering dental services for seniors. Fluoride can be introduced in the remineralization process through different ways, including:-

●      Fluoride gels: Fluoride gels are used in dental treatment for seniors who are at high risk or undergoing radiotherapy, or for elderly/dependent patients in the event of dietary changes and often less satisfactory oral hygiene.

●      Fluoride toothpaste: The vast majority of toothpaste on the market is fluoridated. The use of such toothpaste will prevent the development of dental caries.

●      Drinking water: The optimum concentration of fluoride in drinking water is between 0.2 and 1.2 ppm. Seniors will receive fluoride by drinking water that contains fluoride.

Preventative Advice

Getting older does not necessarily mean loss of teeth and a decline in the quality of life. We can help seniors take care of their oral hygiene today to enjoy a healthy mouth in the future.

This is the advice that we should be offering seniors:

  • Stop smoking because tobacco remains one of the major causes of damage to the mouth.
  • Respect daily oral hygiene habits throughout life.
  • Adopt a balanced diet that will provide all the nutrients necessary to preserve the teeth.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Visit the dentist at least once a year.
  • Inform the dentist of their medical history and any medications that they are taking.

Invite me to your facility

 For more advice on dental treatment for seniors,  invite me to your facility, conference, training, or interview to hear more.

As the  Geriatric Tooth Fairy, I raise awareness about the plight of seniors to make sure they receive good oral care.

You can also purchase my Book  The Tooth and Nothing But The Truth.