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Sunday, May 19, 2013
At every age, regular daily care of the mouth and gums is important. The daily oral health care routine for an older adult who has his or her own teeth should include:
Older adults may have difficulty flossing their own teeth. A family member/caregiver can help by doing the following:
The older adult may need additional fluoride, often available as a fluoride rinse or gel. Some products are available over-the-counter, while others are in prescription concentrations. Ask the dentist if a fluoride product would be helpful.
A chlorhexidine rinse can fight germs that cause gum disease. Again, ask the dentist if this type of rinse should be part of the daily oral hygiene routine. This type of rinse is available by prescription from the dentist.
Mouthwash (choose a brand to help avoid dry mouth) will also help keep breath fresh - and help reduce bacteria in the mouth.
These rinses should not be swallowed. For patients with swallowing problems, talk to a dentist.
Older adults should visit the dentist at least twice a year for a professional cleaning and examination. Those without any remaining natural teeth should also have their gums and oral tissues examined once each year.
For an adult who cannot communicate well, family members and caregivers should provide the following information to the dentist at each visit:
To find a dentist, or where to get reduced or no-fee dental care for those in need, visit the following sites:
For those with limited financial resources and no private dental insurance, there is a statewide listing of reduced fee/sliding fee scale dental clinics in Ohio's counties. Simply click onto the appropriate county on the Ohio map at the webpage indicated above. When the next page opens, go to the drop down menu, and select Dental Care Program. The information includes locations, hours, and eligibility criteria for free or reduced fee dental care, and if the clinic accepts Medicaid.
Last Reviewed: Apr 14, 2011
Abdel Rahim Mohammad, DDS, MS, MPH, FAAOM, FACD
Clinical Professor of Geriatrics
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University