Formerly Nancy Tomkins and Associates

A Healthy Mouth for Good Health – Information for Caregivers

What is the importance of a healthy mouth?

Good oral hygiene habits are essential for a healthy mouth. Good oral hygiene contributes significantly to overall systemic health and well being. If you are a denture wearer or care for someone that is, well-fitting dentures and a good cleaning routine are necessary.

Removing bacteria and plaque from the natural teeth, gums, dental implants and dentures is important as a daily routine. Dentures harbouring dental plaque may lead to problems with the underlying tissues that support the prosthesis, as well as, create problems for remaining natural teeth. Daily oral care helps to prevent bad breath, infected gums, tooth decay/ loss, abscesses and life threatening infections. Good oral care can reduce the risk of pneumonia; help to prevent heart disease, stroke,and problems controlling diabetes.

What are the warning signs?

Bad breath, swollen, red and bleeding gums, difficulty chewing and/or swallowing, clicking dentures, behaviour such as refusing to eat or strained facial expressions while eating, are signs of problems in the mouth.

Is dental disease preventable?

Oral cancer and dental disease can afflict anyone, including those missing all of their natural teeth. Early detection and treatment of oral cancer is critical.

Dental disease is preventable with daily oral care and routine visits to oral health care professionals.

What can I do as a caregiver to assist?

Dental plaque accumulates in everyone’s mouth each day and needs to be removed daily from the natural teeth, oral tissues (including the tongue) and dentures, ideally after each meal. However, we are aware that in nursing homes and in other circumstances this is difficult to achieve.

  • Determine how much help is required, speak with the nursing staff and determine what is required and when it should be done.
  • Make sure that mouth care supplies are on hand and replaced as needed – brushes should be replaced every three months or following illness such as the flu.
  • For residents in facilities, label mouth care supplies – toothbrush, denture brush, tongue scraper and denture container – with their name. In our dental laboratory we can permanently place names in dentures.
  • Help out by including tooth brushing and denture cleaning during your visits.Wash, rinse and tap excess water from brushes after use and store in an open container to air dry.
  • Make regular appointments for professional oral health and denture care.

Tips for Caregivers

  • Wash hands before handling denture or wear disposable gloves.
  • Apply a water-based lip moisturizer and remove dentures from the mouth before brushing thoroughly.
  • Use a soft toothbrush with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to brush all surfaces of any remaining natural teeth,and if possible use floss or a proxabrush to clean between the teeth.
  • Brush natural teeth twice daily, especially before bedtime. Don’t forget to floss!
  • Clean and massage all mouth tissues (cheeks, gums, roof and floor of the mouth) with a super soft toothbrush, gauze or an oral swab.
  • Use a tongue scraper or soft toothbrush to clean the tongue from the back to the tip as many germs are harboured in the tongue.
  • Clean dentures over a water-filled sink or a towel to prevent breakage in case they slip from your hands.
  • Use a denture brush with denture paste to brush all surfaces including the underneath or gum side of the dentures. Rinse with warm water. Clean all surfaces of the metal wires [clasps] on partial dentures.
  • Do not use household bleach or abrasive cleaners to clean dentures.
  • Remove denture adhesives daily from the dentures and the mouth to prevent infections and irritations of the tissues. Use only zinc-free denture adhesive products.
  • Soak dentures in a denture cleaner such as NovaDent® or commercial cleansing tablets at least once daily.

Help for dry mouth

A side effect of many prescription medications is dry mouth (xerostomia). Saliva production is affected by some diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and by cancer treatment. A dry mouth increases the risk of gum disease and tooth decay, especially if tooth roots are exposed due to gum recession and bone loss.

It also makes denture retention (snug fit) more difficult.

  • Avoid using mouthwash containing alcohol.
  • Biotene® products (toothpaste, rinse, gel,mouth spray, gum) sold in drugstores help to moisturize and provide relief for dry mouth.
  • Sipping on water, sucking on ice chips, using sugarfree candies and gum may also help to moisturize a dry mouth.

Natural teeth need regular examination by a dentist and regular professional cleaning by a dental hygienist. Dentures need to be examined yearly by a denturist to evaluate their condition, fit, ensure the bite is correct,and for professional cleaning.

Denturists Nancy Tomkins and Cliff Muzylowsky can assess the health of the mouth, as well as provide the services necessary to ensure comfortable, well fitting dentures. We make nursing home calls and work with many local dentists to ensure your oral health concerns are addressed.

  • Call Teresa for a consultation

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