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Study shows elderly and their caregivers need to focus more on oral health

While advancements in dentistry and oral hygiene are preventing many people from losing their teeth late in life, those teeth aren’t getting proper care, according a European study by Dr. Gert-Jan van der Putten.

The study revealed that a longstanding problem still exists: Elderly people who are too frail to care for their own teeth aren’t getting adequate oral care at nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Details of the European Geriatric Medicine study are available here:

It is possible nursing staff underestimate the importance of oral hygiene for the elderly, which an issue the American Dental Association and state groups are trying to correct in the U.S. as they work on programs to make sure dentists are available in nursing homes. Families can also help by advocating good oral hygiene for elderly family members in such facilities. Experts recommend observing regularly to be sure brushing and flossing are part of the daily care routine.

In addition to poor oral hygiene, reduced saliva production and certain medications can also cause dental issues in older adults. The most common problems include cavities, gum disease and implanted teeth. These dental issues can affect the patient’s overall health, putting them at high risk for diabetes, lung conditions and heart disease.

Good oral hygiene and dental health are important at any age. If you have any questions about your own oral health, or that of a loved one in your care, please contact Dr. Shane McDowell at 239-936-0597 or make an appointment online at

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