Older adults

How do you look after your dentures? How often do older people need to have a dental check-up? Good oral care is important at all ages. Read these simple tips for good oral health for older adults.

Top 10 oral health tips for older adults

1. Limit sugary foods and drinks

  • Many common foods and snacks have sugar in them. Eating foods with high levels of sugar causes tooth decay.
  • Limit foods with added sugars, especially between meals. If you eat sweet or sticky foods, they are best eaten at meal times to reduce the chance of decay.
  • Try not to add sugar to food or drinks such as tea and coffee.

2. Choose healthy food options

  • Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups every day, including; fruit, vegetables, grains and cereals, dairy, lean meat, fish and eggs.
  • Nutritious foods are important for general health and oral health.

3. Water is the best drink for older adults

  • Drink plenty of tap water throughout the day.
  • Most of Victoria’s tap water supply has fluoride in it. Fluoride protects teeth from decay.
  • Remember that shop bought bottled water usually does not have fluoride in it.

4. Brush teeth and along the gum line twice a day with a soft toothbrush

  • Brushing teeth removes plaque (the build-up on teeth) that causes tooth decay.
  • Brush all surfaces of the teeth and gums twice a day (after breakfast and before bed).
  • Use a soft toothbrush or electric toothbrush.
  • Use a suitable fluoride toothpaste. Ask your dentist if you should use standard or high strength fluoride toothpaste.
  • After brushing, spit out toothpaste. Do not swallow it or rinse with water.
  • If tooth brushing is not possible (due to physical conditions or other issues), seek advice from your dentist.
  • Ask your dentist if they recommend flossing for you.

How to brush your teeth (including dentures) guide>>

5. Clean dentures with soap and water

  • If you wear dentures, remember to also brush you gums and tongue twice a day with a soft toothbrush.
  • Clean dentures after meals to remove food and plaque.
  • Dentures should be taken out overnight. Clean dentures well using liquid soap and a soft toothbrush. After cleaning, your dentures can be kept in a clean dry container.
  • If your dentures are painful see your dental professional.

How to brush your teeth (including dentures) guide>>

6. Fluoride mouthrinses can be effective in reducing decay

  • Speak with your dentist about whether fluoride mouthrinse is right for you.

7. Chewing sugar free gum can reduce tooth decay

  • Chewing sugar free gum can be part of the oral hygiene routine for older adults.
  • Ask your dentist if chewing sugar free gum is right for you.

8. Oral health checks are important for a healthy mouth

  • Everyone has different oral health needs.
  • Talk with your dentist about your risk level and how often you need to have an oral health check.
  • See your dentist if you have:
    • pain in your mouth
    • bleeding gums
    • any sores, lumps or discoloured patches in your mouth
  • Visit your public dental clinic or private dentist

Who is eligible? >>
Find your nearest community dental clinic >>
Services for homebound patients (Domiciliary)>>

9. Quit smoking to improve oral and general health

  • Smoking is a major cause of mouth cancer. Quit smoking to reduce your risk.
  • Smoking causes gum disease. Quit smoking for healthier gums.
  • Quit smoking to improve the health of your mouth, gums and teeth.Your dentist will discuss your child’s needs and plan how often your child should have their teeth checked.

10. Be aware of the effects medication can have on your mouth

  • Some medications can cause dry mouth (xerostomia). Having a dry mouth increases your risk of tooth decay. Ask your pharmacist, doctor or dentist if the medication you take causes dry mouth.
  • Check if the medications you are taking are sugar free. If not, ask if a sugar free option is available. Otherwise, rinse your mouth out with water after taking medication which has sugar in it.

These tips are based on the Oral health messages for the Australian public: Findings of a national consensus workshop (2010) , the Australian Dietary Guidelines (2013) ,
the Better Oral Health in Residential Care Staff Portfolio (2009) and the Evidence-based oral health promotion resource (2011) .

DHSV is a content partner with the Better Health Channel. More information about oral health can be found at here. Use the search terms ‘teeth’ or ‘dental’.

Better Health Channel