Oral Hygiene Tips for Seniors in Recognition of National Dental Hygiene Month
October is designated as National Dental Hygiene Month, and the American Dental Hygienists’ Association and Listerine have partnered this year to bring awareness to not only the important work that hygienists do but also how people can take care of their pearly whites throughout their lives. Fellowship Square shares expert tips about how seniors can protect their teeth during National Dental Hygiene Month and beyond!
According to the Colgate website, this year’s National Dental Hygiene month is focused on advocating for four routines that people can use to help maintain a healthy mouth! These four routines include brushing (twice a day!), flossing, rinsing (with mouthwash) and chewing.
While the first three are self-explanatory, the fourth may come as a surprise. It turns out that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after eating can actually help prevent tooth decay, according to MouthHealthy.org, the American Dental Association’s consumer website.
One of the reasons brushing and maintaining oral health is so important is that problems in the mouth can affect the rest of the body, according to the Mayo Clinic. The mouth is filled with bacteria (mostly good), but it is also the entry point to the body’s “digestive and respiratory tracts and some of these bacteria can cause disease.” However, the body’s natural defenses — along with a solid oral health care routine — can keep these bacteria at bay.
However, bacteria that is not kept under control can lead to oral infections like tooth decay and gum disease. Another key thing for seniors that take a multitude of prescription medications to remember is that some medications can reduce saliva flow, causing dry mouth. Saliva is a crucial part of oral health because it washes away food particles and neutralizes acids that are produced by bacteria in the mouth — so it helps protect the body from microbes that can multiply and cause disease. Staying hydrated and rinsing with a mouthwash after eating can help those that have decreased saliva flow. Chewing that sugarless gum as mentioned above can also help increase the flow of saliva.
The Mayo Clinic reminds people that tobacco use is harmful for the mouth as well as eating lots of sugar-laden foods. Avoiding tobacco and sugar is essential for a healthy mouth, as is eating a healthy diet, brushing twice daily with a soft bristled toothbrush (and don’t forget to brush the tongue too!), using toothpaste with fluoride, flossing daily, and replacing one’s toothbrush every three months or sooner if bristles become worn. Seniors should also maintain regular dental check-ups and cleanings, about twice a year. Fellowship Square loves to see their residents’ happy smiles. So keep them healthy with these tips!