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 are 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.

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