Care of Dentures, Natural Teeth, and Mouth Sore Prevention
In the elderly population, the use of dentures and loss of natural teeth can create potential health problems. Oral care is important in the older adult population because of the increased use of dentures, increased likelihood of chronic diseases, and other various health-related issues that can affect the health of the mouth. This article will discuss health promotion, risk factors and prevention methods in oral care.
The most important part of oral health is discussing problems and possible solutions with a primary care provider as well as having regular dental check-ups regardless of current or lack of current oral health issues. Watching the mouth for issues before they occur is beneficial in preventing health problems. For the elderly population, care of the mouth is especially important if the person has chronic disease, such as diabetes and COPD, or is taking medications that can affect the health of the mouth (Chalmers & Johnson, 2012).
Dentures can be especially hard on the gums by rubbing against them or trapping food between the gum and the denture; therefore care of the entire mouth is extremely important. For individuals with full or partial dentures, the following information is important in keeping the mouth healthy and free of disease or complications:
- Regular dental exam and cleaning – at least once a year
- Clean dentures at least one time per day
- Clean dentures with soap and a denture brush
- Do not use regular toothpaste to clean dentures
- Denture fizzes or tablets are appropriate to use after a manual cleaning
- Clean the denture cup daily as well
- Remove dentures at night to sleep or at least remove one time per day to allow the mouth to rest
- Report any ill-fitting dentures or if the dentures are misplaced to the dentist (Chalmers & Johnson, 2012).
The care of natural teeth is as important as denture care. Natural teeth are at risk for cavities and gum issues. For people with some or all of their natural teeth remaining, the following information is important to keep the mouth healthy and free of complications:
- Regular dental exam and cleaning – at least twice per year
- Brush teeth at least two times per day
- Morning and night
- After meals if possible
- Use fluoride toothpaste if possible
- Use antimicrobial mouthwash to rinse the mouth after brushing teeth
- Limit the amount of sugar eaten each day to prevent cavities
- Report any tooth pain or tooth loss to the dentist (Chalmers & Johnson, 2012)
Dry mouth can be a side effect from medications and other conditions. Signs of dry mouth include: trouble swallowing or chewing, chapped lips, a sticky feeling in the mouth between meals, and a change in taste (Chalmers & Johnson, 2012). For people who experience dry mouth, the following information is beneficial in helping to relieve some of the symptoms and discomfort:
- Avoid alcohol including mouth rinses that contain alcohol
- Stop smoking
- Chew sugar-free gum if able
- Dentures may not allow for gum
- Drink plenty of fluids if not on a diet restriction – eight glasses per day in general
- Avoid spicy, sticky, or dry foods because these can irritate the mouth
- Sleep with a humidifier in the room
- Consider mouth-moistening products
- Biotene (over the counter)
- Xerolube (over the counter)
- Mary’s Magic Mouthwash (prescription only, if recommended by the healthcare provider)
- Talk with the physician or health care provider about medications that can cause dry mouth (Chalmers & Johnson, 2012).
People who are older than 40 years old, female, and/or have been using dentures for longer than five years are at an increased risk for developing mouth sores. Mouth sores can develop from bacteria sitting in the mouth or from poorly fitting dentures. These risk factors are especially important to consider as the person ages because the mouth can become susceptible to infection over time. (Guar et al., 2015). The following measures can be taken to prevent mouth sores:
- Brushing dentures first and then using cleaning fizzes or tablets to clean the dentures thoroughly to prevent the spread of mouth bacteria
- Take out dentures at night to sleep
- Stop smoking
- Notify the dentist if the dentures become too loose or too tight
- Eat a balanced diet to promote a healthy immune system (Guar et al.).
Taking control of oral health is an essential part of maintaining overall health and wellness. Consult a dentist or healthcare provider if there are any new issues with mouth sores, sore teeth or gums, bleeding gums, poorly fitting dentures, or tooth loss. These symptoms can be signs of mouth infection or disease and may be treatable.
In summary, oral care is important in maintaining mouth health and preventing complications, especially in the elderly population. Discuss any recent mouth issues or complaints with the physician or dentist at yearly exams. Watch the mouth for any signs of change or discomfort and report these if they occur. It is extremely important to maintain the health of the mouth in order to prevent infections, mouth sores, or complications that may interfere with eating. Remember to use preventative measures such as quitting smoking, avoiding alcohol or products with alcohol in them, brushing teeth at least twice daily, and performing daily denture care.
Jenna Spiller, BSN student
Devon Tenbarge, BSN student
Pamela Thomas, MSN, RN, CCRN
Charlotte Connerton, EdD, RN, CNE-BC
University of Southern Indiana College of Nursing and Health Professions
Chalmers, J., and Johnson, V.B. (2012). Evidence-based practice guideline: Oral hygiene care for the functionally dependent and cognitively impaired older adults. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 38(11), 11-19. http://dx.doi.org/10.3928/00989134- 20121003-02
Gaur, A., Kumar, V. S. G., Siddiqui, S. R., Agarwal, S., Monga, H. S., & Gosavi, S. S. (2015). Study of prevalence of oral lesions in complete denture wearers. Journal of International Oral Health, 7(11), 97-100. Retrieved from http://www.ispcd.org/userfiles/rishabh/V7I11/V7I11A21.pdf