Kentfield, CA (December 2016) – According to the American Dental Association’s website, “Patients with severe cognitive impairment, including dementia, are at increased risk for caries [cavities], periodontal disease, and oral infection because of decreased ability to engage in self-care. Education of the caregiver, as well as the patient, is an important part of the prevention and disease management phase of dental care.”
Windchime of Marin did just that recently, by hosting San Rafael Dentist, Dr. Igor Ochev for an afternoon lecture on dental care for caregivers and residents.
Dr. Ochev, related that, as we age, several things happen that, when combined, tend to create problems with our teeth.
First, we tend to get more dental work done, such as crowns and fillings. We also start taking more and more medications which tend to make our mouths dry, leaving us more prone to infections. Finally, we slowly lose our manual dexterity which make flossing and brushing more difficult.
Dr. Ochev then spoke about ways we can ensure we maintain good dental health.
To start with, brush regularly. While any toothbrush can do a decent job at cleaning the teeth, when dexterity starts to decline, using an electric toothbrush, like ones available from Sonicar,e help tremendously. When using an electric tooth brush, you are not relying on your hand to do the job, but rather letting the tooth brush do it for you. All you need to do is move the brush around without scrubbing the teeth.
Second, use tooth paste containing Fluoride. Dr. Ochev noted that there have been media reports that Fluoride is poison and should not be used, and he confirmed that part of that assertion is correct – Fluoride is poison if you eat it by the spoon. However, when used in the tiny amount present in tooth paste, it is beneficial in helping to prevent tooth decay.
Third, flossing at least once a day using thread or floss picks. Other options are Airfloss, if holding the floss or a floss pick is a challenge, or the Waterpick – which, while a great tool, still requires a certain amount of dexterity to prevent making a mess.
Dr. Ochev added that supplemental measures include the use of prescription strength tooth paste Prevident, which protects the outer surfaces of the teeth against cavities. Strengthening the teeth with the use of mouth rinses like ACT. And the use of mouthwashes such as Biotene or Oasis which help counteract dry mouth.
Finally, while an annual dental check-up is beneficial, twice a year is the most beneficial. Poor dental health can lead to a variety of diseases and complications. Good dental care is an important habit which should be maintained, not ignored with age.