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There has been a lot of coverage in the news about the difficulty in getting dental care.

So, what should you do to take care of your teeth and mouth to prevent a trip to a dentist and the stress of not being able to find one?

Gums may recede (shrink back) as you get older, and your teeth may become a little more sensitive as a result. You should brush your teeth properly as this will keep any gum problems under control, and using mouthwash if there is any sensitivity.

It can be more difficult to clean your teeth properly if you have mobility issues with your arms or hand or if you have poor eyesight. However, there are aids that can help with cleaning your teeth. Electric toothbrushes have also been proven to remove more plaque than manual toothbrushes, so this would be an easier option as it does the work for you.

Plaque needs to be removed to protect the teeth; it can be hard to know whether you have removed the plaque. You can buy disclosing tablet with is a non-harmful dye that sticks to plaque so you can see where you need to brush better, brushing the dye away will ensure you have removed the plaque – paying attention to where the gum meets the tooth.

If you are housebound a dentist can be sort to do home visits- but looking after your teeth can ensure good mouth hygiene and prolongs your teeth health.

Poor oral healthcare can lead to difficulties in eating, and absorbing medications properly. When people are living with medical problems it is often hard to detect oral health problems. This can lead to malnutrition if untreated, this then leads to further health consequences, including increasing frailty and recovery time from other illnesses. Malnutrition is dangerous in older people, with a third of older people being admitted to hospital who are at risk of being malnourished.

A few studies have linked poor oral hygiene to aspiration pneumonia, this is more common if someone is living in residential care setting or is in hospital for prolonged period of time. Plaque can be colonised by types of bacteria that can cause pneumonia which are then subsequently inhaled potentially causing pneumonia.

Dry Mouth – As people get older, they will have a decrease in saliva production. This is known as dry mouth. Many of the medications that are prescribed for older people often cause a dry mouth. A dry mouth results in a build up in sugar and acids that cause tooth decay, receding gums or gum disease. It can also

mean that lips, a swollen tongue and impact their speech. The importance of drinking water frequently is essential, avoiding sugar and chewing on things like gum can increase saliva production.

Top tips to avoid dental problems in old age.

– Brushing at least twice a day with toothpaste that contain fluoride.

– Flossing once a day – or more if able.

– Use an electronic toothbrush, older people should use a soft or medium brush.

– Use antiseptic mouthwash once or twice a day to reduce bacteria and a dry mouth.

– Visit your dentist regularly.

If you are caring for a loved one then it is important that you adopt a good oral care routine, explaining the reason for the importance of oral care in the elderly so they understand the importance of why you are doing the oral care.

For those without any natural teeth, having a comfortable set of dentures is also extremely important for general well-being and quality of life. However, if dentures are lost or broken this causes significant problems. It can often take several weeks to access a dentist and have a new set of dentures made, a process which usually involves multiple appointments.

It is important therefore in home dental care to look after your dentures and there a few steps you can take to keep them in good shape and maintain good oral hygiene:

· Remove and rinse dentures after eating

· Clean your mouth and palate after removing dentures

· Handle dentures with care

· Clean and brush your dentures at least once a day, more if possible

· Soak dentures overnight following manufacturer’s instructions on which cleaning/soaking products to use

· Rinse your dentures before you put them back in your mouth if you are using a soaking solution to protect your mouth

· Consult your dentist if they become loose of the fit is no longer snug

· Schedule regular dental check-ups