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Good oral health is vital for senior Australians' overall health, wellbeing and quality of life. The need for dental care increases as people age, but deteriorating health, cognition and mobility can leave them unable to maintain good dental hygiene - therefore more vulnerable to oral disease. 


Common conditions 

The elderly commonly experience the following conditions, which contribute to tooth loss: 

  • tooth decay (dental caries)

  • gum disease (gingivitis, periodontal disease)

  • dry mouth (xerostomia), often as a side effect of taking medication.

How to prevent or manage them

  • maintaining daily oral hygiene (with support, if needed)

  • regular visits to a dental practitioner for check-ups and preventive care

  • timely referrals for dental treatment

  • oral health care planning

  • ​routine oral health assessments, both before and after entering residential aged care.

​Poor oral health can:

  • cause pain, discomfort and infections

  • lead to malnutrition, which can increase the risk of infection, falls and fractures

  • be linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and aspiration pneumonia

  • complicate management of illnesses such as diabetes, chronic heart failure and respiratory diseases.


Maintaining good oral health

  • Teeth should be brushed morning and night with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste

  • The teeth, gums and tongue should all be brushed

  • The mouth can be kept moist by regularly sipping or rinsing with water

  • Saliva substitutes can be used if necessary

  • Regular dental visits are important.

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