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                                                        DR. DAN PETERSON

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GERIATRIC DENTAL HYGIENE NEEDS

Most older Americans brush for less than 2 minutes total time a day.  Flossing is nonexistent!

Most older Americans brush for less than 2 minutes per DAY!
Flossing is almost nonexistent!

         

Oral health status in geriatric rehabilitation patients 

    The aim of this study was to compare the oral health status among patients at a geriatric rehabilitation ward using an oral assessment guide on admission and at discharge. On admission, oral health problems were assessed in 86% of the patients. The corresponding figure at discharge was 51%. The frequency of the problems was significantly lower at discharge than on admission.  Recommended oral health procedures were given when problems related to saliva, mucous membranes, gums and teeth/dentures were assessed. This study demonstrated that the oral health improved during the hospital stay. P Anderson

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     Most older adults are affected by ongoing periodontal disease, root caries and calcified pulps.  These brittle teeth can fracture which causing an increase in tooth loss.  Medically compromised older adults have a higher degree of difficulty in maintaining a healthy mouth!

     The most common physical problem that affects older Americans is arthritis.  

Middle-aged Adults and Senior Having Common Problems
Chronic Conditions Ages 45-64 Ages 65+
Arthritis 25% 53%
Hypertension 24% 42%
Hearing Loss 14% 40%
Heart condition 12% 34%
Visual impairment 6% 23%
Diabetes  6% 8%

     With the advent of the electric toothbrush arthritic compromised people have a wider array of toothbrush handles to choose from.  This makes cleaning easier, less frustrating and more efficient.  Most electric brushes have timers to make sure you brush for two minutes.  Regular toothbrush handles are difficult to grip:

 

          Sonicare is easy to hold.

    Flossing , which is often nonexistent in this age group is needed in order to break plaque and debris from between the teeth.  New electric flosser like the Auto Flosser or Waterpik's Aquaflossers help achieve better oral health.

     Those over 65 take at least one to 10 pills a day which can cause dry mouth and decrease in salivary flow which decreases the cleaning action of saliva leading to increased risk for decay and gum disease.

     Based on these facts the older generation can not lump themselves into the group that needs only a "cleaning" once or twice a year!  This can be detrimental to your overall health and is a disservice to yourself. 

     Medically compromised individuals taking numerous medications may need monthly appointments as well as senior who continue to use tobacco products.

     Fluoride gels and rinses are useful,  they have significantly reduced plaque levels and protected root surface from root caries, a growing problem for older Americans.

     The fastest growing segment of our populations is people within the 85-100 year old age bracket.  Don't be one who says along with Eubie Blake "If I had know I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself". 

Source: Geriatric Hygiene: It's Not All Black and White.  Dr. Shapira.  Dentistry Today March 2001 Pg 53-59.

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February 06, 2008

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          If you have any questions please e-mail me at: drdpeterson@scottsbluff.net
                                                                                 308-436-3491 Office number

PLEASE NOTE: The information contained herein is intended for educational purposes only.  It is not intended and should not be construed as the delivery of dental/medical care and is not a substitute for personal hands on dental/medical attention, diagnosis or treatment.  Persons requiring diagnosis, treatment, or with specific questions are urged to contact your family dental/health care provider for appropriate care.
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