Oral health for seniors: myths and realities

Oral health for seniors HELVIDENT

Do you have questions about seniors' oral health? When it comes to dentistry, each age group has its own specific characteristics, which you need to be aware of if you are to offer sound advice. HELVIDENT confirms or disproves 5 common ideas held by senior citizens. Find out what the myths and realities are about the oral health of people over 65 in Switzerland.

For better oral health, senior citizens should opt for an electric toothbrush.

TRUE. Of course, the effectiveness of tooth brushing depends more on frequency and technique. According to Swiss Society of DentistsIn order to prevent tooth decay, teeth should be brushed at least 2 times a day for at least 2 minutes. The use of fluoride toothpaste and interdental cleaning tools is also recommended. However, buying an electric toothbrush appears to be the ideal solution for many seniors. In fact, some of them suffer from osteoarthritis or have limited hand or arm movement. Manual brushing is not very effective in these cases, as it is superficial and/or does not reach all areas. Whatever your age, don't hesitate to invest in an electric toothbrush to make your life easier. 

After a certain age, adults no longer need regular calcium intake. Seniors can do without it. 

FALSE. Calcium plays an essential role in preventing bone loss and osteoporosis. These problems particularly affect of the population over 65 in Switzerland. Seniors must therefore continue to consume calcium throughout their lives. Did you know that osteoporosis can occur in the jawbones? The result is teeth that move or fall out. Recent studies have shown that it is better to consume calcium through the diet rather than in the form of dietary supplements. The recommended calcium intake is 1000 milligrams per day for an adult. Find out more on Swiss Society of Nutrition website. It's also advisable to vary your sources of calcium: milk, cheese, yoghurt, cruciferous vegetables, almonds, seafood, seaweed, pulses... 

Dry mouth can lead to cavities in the elderly.

TRUE. You may have escaped the dental caries while you're young, but it's not uncommon to develop dry mouth after the age of 65. In fact, regular and prolonged use of certain medications can cause dry mouth in older people. Saliva plays an active role in balancing and protecting the oral cavity. It also rids the mouth of bad bacteria that attack teeth and cause cavities. If your mouth is dry, you're at greater risk. That's why we advise you to tell your dentist about any medication you are taking. He or she will be able to suggest a solution to promote salivation.

It's not important to tell my dentist if I have a heart condition or if I've had a joint replacement.

FALSE: You should inform your dentist in Fribourg or Lausanne if you have a heart condition or arthroplasty. Indeed, certain cardiac pathologies present a high risk of infection after dental surgery. Your dentist should be aware of this, and prescribe an appropriate course of antibiotics. The same applies to senior citizens who have undergone surgery to replace a joint (knee, hip, shoulder...). Generally speaking, the attending dentist needs to know the patient's medical history to ensure personalized treatment.  

Everyone needs dentures at some point in their lives. 

FALSE. Today, around 75 % of people over 65 retain all or part of their teeth. According to dentists in Lausanne and Fribourg, this positive result is due to the application of preventive measures. These include daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride has been proven to reduce the risk of developing tooth decay, provided of course that the right dosage is used. What's more, dental medicine has come a long way. Today, dentists can save teeth they would previously have pulled. So, with a good oral hygiene and regular visits to a dental practice, it's possible to preserve your teeth for life. Not all senior citizens wear full or partial dentures.

Oral health for seniors at HELVIDENT clinics

HELVIDENT welcomes patients to its three dental clinics in Lausanne, Fribourg and Aigle. Here you'll find all the dental professions under one roof: dental hygienists, general dentists and specialists in orthodontics, periodontics and implantology. Our team welcomes people of all ages - children, adults and seniors - offering dental care tailored to their needs. Please do not hesitate to contact us to make an appointment.