Geriatric Oral Care: Myths Versus Facts

I have always loved smiling. When I was much younger, I created the smile and stare game where I would stare at people until they cracked a smile.

I fell in love with capturing smiles at a young age, and I continue to love the warm feeling that it gives me. Madea would always say that a smile is something that you can give away and still keep for yourself. These nuggets of wisdom made me who I am today.

Similar to the tooth fairy, I am privy to specific age groups. I do not leave money under pillows, but I do fly around the world, serving the Elder community and voicing the issues and concerns that are often not addressed.

Geriatric expertise lies in the age group of the baby boomers who are born between 1946 and 1964.

This generation makes up a large portion of the population of the world because the number of babies born “boomed” after The Second World War and continued to rise until the 1960s.

Therefore, they now represent nearly 20% of the American public. That is why understanding older adults’ health is becoming increasingly essential.

Geriatrics and Gerontology have become an integral piece for preparing for the future. For this reason, I give talks and have written a book on the oral health care of seniors.

Today I will focus on some truths and myths on the dental treatment for seniors.

Everyone Will Need Dentures At Some Point In Their Life

FALSE. Currently, around 21% of seniors are keeping all or some of their teeth. This is due to the increased use of preventative measures, such as brushing teeth using fluoridated toothpaste.

In addition, there has been significant progress in the field of dentistry.  So, today, dentists can save teeth that they would previously have pulled out.

With good oral hygiene and regular visits to a dental office, it is possible to keep your teeth for life.

For Better Oral Health, Seniors Should Use An Electric Toothbrush.

TRUE. According to the CDC, people should brush their teeth at least twice a day for at least 2 minutes and floss daily to remove plaque between the teeth.

Using an electric toothbrush appears to be an ideal solution for many seniors. Some elders suffer from osteoarthritis or are limited in the movement of the hands or arms.

Manual brushing is not very effective in this case because it does not reach all areas.

It Is Normal For Gums To Bleed

FALSE: Sorry, but bleeding gums is not normal. On the contrary, when the gums bleed it is because they are inflamed. At the very least, it could be gingivitis, although in some cases it could be a symptom of a much more advanced disease such as periodontitis.

Also, unlike many people believe, the bleeding is not related to using hard toothbrushes or brushing too hard.

Due to this misconception, some people stop brushing their teeth for fear of causing more damage, which tends to have the opposite effect, since the diseased area needs thorough brushing.

The Quality of Toothpaste and Toothbrush Boosts Oral Hygiene

TRUE: Toothpaste is important for oral hygiene and should be of the highest quality, as are toothbrushes, which generally should have stiff bristles.

However,  poor brushing techniques can render the best toothbrush with the best toothpaste useless.

For example, using very aggressive techniques can cause gum recession. And we cannot remove plaque if we do not use the brush correctly.

More Dental Advice

For more advice on taking care of the oral health of 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.