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Dental Care for Older Adults

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

Dental care for older people is much the same as for younger adults. But older adults do have concerns that younger adults do not. These may include:

Caregivers can help remind the people they are caring for to brush and floss their teeth or to clean their dentures. In some cases, caregivers may need to do the brushing and other care. People who have trouble using their hands or who have dementia may need this extra help.

Dentures

Dentures are "false teeth." They can replace all the teeth in your mouth (complete denture) or only some of them (partial denture). If you need dentures, your dentist will measure your mouth and take impressions to create them.

You should care for your dentures as you would your teeth. It's also important to care for your gums. You or your caregiver should brush your gums, tongue, and the roof of your mouth every day with a soft-bristled brush before you put in your dentures. See your dentist on a regular basis.

To care for dentures:

To care for teeth and gums:

Using a toothbrush

Older adults with arthritis sometimes have trouble brushing their teeth because they can't easily hold the toothbrush. Their hands and fingers may be stiff, painful, or weak. If this is the case:

You may also be able to buy specially designed toothbrushes, toothpaste dispensers, and floss holders.

Your doctor may recommend a soft-bristle toothbrush if you or the person you care for bleeds easily. Bleeding can happen because of a health problem or from certain medicines.

A toothpaste for sensitive teeth may help if you or the person you care for has sensitive teeth.

Normal dental care

To keep the teeth and gums healthy:

Many older adults have a fixed income and feel that they can't afford dental care. But most towns and cities have programs in which dentists help older adults by reducing fees. Contact your area's public health offices or social services for information about dental care in your community.


Credits for Dental Care for Older Adults

Current as of: October 27, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Arden Christen DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry


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