Senior Oral Care Advice Living in Long-Term Care Homes
Oral care is essential to overall health, and it’s especially important for seniors living in long-term
care. Maintaining good oral hygiene can help seniors feel better about themselves, combat bad breath, and prevent tooth decay and teeth from falling out.
Karen at Roving Dental Hygiene goes into long-term care homes across the community. She advises caregivers to maintain a healthy mouth while living in long-term care.
To maintain good oral health, Karen recommends:
Brushing teeth thoroughly along the gumline twice daily with a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. A toothbrush with an angled head is more accessible for seniors to use.
Flossing or toothpicks once a day is also crucial for seniors. Flossing removes plaque between teeth that a toothbrush cannot reach. It also helps prevent gum disease and cavities. Flossing should be done gently; never yank or snap the floss, as this can cause bleeding gums or torn floss fibres that lead to infection with bacteria in the mouth.
Using non-alcoholic mouthwash after brushing and flossing will help kill germs left on the surface of teeth and gums before they have an opportunity to grow. Using a fluoride mouthwashwill also help strengthen teeth and prevent decay. If your loved one is unable to rinse and spit,brushing the teeth using mouthwash can be effective
Karen sees the residents in these homes on a 3, 4 or 6 month basis for regular exams and cleanings. They should also schedule an appointment if they notice any of these symptoms:
•A throbbing or burning sensation in the mouth
•Swelling of the gums around teeth, especially when brushing or flossing •
Gum bleeding during brushing or flossing
•Bad breath that doesn’t go away with brushing and flossing