It’s always best to be proactive rather then reactive as seniors are at increased risk for the development of cavities or dental caries.
Many of these carious lesions or cavities tend to occur along the root surfaces of the teeth and may progress rapidly. Decreased salivary flow along with diets high in simple sugars and inadequate oral hygiene resulting from poor manual dexterity with the toothbrush and floss are common contributing factors to cavities.
The primary cause of dental caries is plaque bacteria found on the surfaces of the teeth. A healthy and balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, healthy fats and protein is preferred to one that is filled with processed sugars when it comes to prevention of cavities.
Toothpaste such as Clinpro 5000 TM (has 4.5 x the amount of fluoride as normal fluoridated toothpaste). Oral Science TM has an excellent line of products that are sweetened with xylitol which stimulates natural saliva. Mouth rinses containing fluoride such as x-Pur Opti-Rinse TM without alcohol have also been proven to help re-mineralize weakened surfaces of the teeth. London Drugs and Shoppers Drug Mart Pharmacists can help you select a product that will help stimulate saliva and neutralize mouth acids to minimize decay risk.
Daily removal of plaque bacteria with brushing and flossing/proxybrushing of the teeth in addition to professional dental cleanings are also important components of a good caries prevention program.
At Fine Dental Hygiene we can provide Clinpro 5000 through prescriptions to pharmacists that are delivered directly to residents in their long term care facilities. We also provide fluoride varnishes as part of our dental hygiene services.
Having a dry mouth increases the opportunity for plaque bacteria to cause decay as saliva is a natural buffering agent that reduces the acids from the decay causing bacteria. Having a healthy saliva flow is beneficial for our oral health. Dry mouth syndrome is a condition common among seniors and is associated with normal changes of advancing age. Other causes include the use of prescription medications such as blood pressure pills, diuretics, sleeping pills, anti-depressants, and anti-histamines.
Radiation and Chemotherapy used in the treatment of cancer is another prime source for dry mouth. Some chronic conditions including diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease are also associated with decreased production of saliva. As well, not drinking enough liquids is a prime cause.
Many commercial oral care products will contain ingredients that can aggravate dry mouth. It is best to avoid brands of toothpastes containing foaming agents such as sodium lauryl sulfate and mouth rinses that contain alcohol.
Your oral health care professional will be able to recommend choices of oral care products suitable for dry mouth. Other tips to alleviate this condition include sipping on water or keeping small chips of ice in the mouth.
The use of artificial saliva with products such as Moist Stir which is a mouth spray, and Biotene tm are great product lines which can be used to moisten the mouth. Also the use of sugarless lozenges containing zylitol to stimulate salivary flow are also useful. If you don’t see them on your drug store shelf ask the Pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart or London Drugs.
Lemon Glycerine swabs should never be used as they further dry the mouth and do not promote healing.
During our assessments we can help determine the right dental hygiene products to use for our patients or feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.