Flossing and all oral/mouth care are vital to the health and wellbeing of older adults and seniors. This process removes food and bacteria from between teeth, helping to prevent infections, tooth decay, and gum disease. Many seniors, however, stop flossing as they age thinking it is no longer important or having difficulty performing the task due to physical limitations with age.
Why should we floss?
Flossing is a very important part of keeping your mouth healthy no matter your age, but it can be a challenge for older adults. While the spaces between your teeth are more difficult to reach, this means food and bacteria can collect and cause gum irritation, swelling, and even bad breath. Continuous swelling can cause gum and bone loss, and create larger spaces for food to collect.
What is the proper technique for flossing?
- Wrap about 18 inches of floss around your two middle fingers.
- Tightly hold the dental floss with your thumbs and pointer finger and gently insert it between the teeth.
- Position the dental floss around the side of the tooth in a ‘C’ shape.
- Move the floss up and down against the sides of each tooth.
- Repeat on the next tooth with a fresh section of the floss until each tooth has been cleaned.
- Flossing should be done once each day, either before or after brushing.
What do I do if flossing is difficult for me?
If you’re older or have a disability that makes it difficult to floss, there are a number of flossing alternatives you can consider. These include:
- Interdental brushes that can fit between teeth.
- Floss picks with handles that can make it easier to floss with just one hand.
- Water flossers that direct water between the teeth in lieu of dental floss.
- Floss threaders can be helpful for flossing under fixed bridges.
- Interdental Brushes – also called proxy brushes, an interdental brush is a small pointed brush attached to a handle that may allow you to clean between teeth when there is enough space. Using one is as easy as inserting the brush tip between the teeth.
If you or your elderly loved one require assistance with personal and oral hygiene, consider home care services. Visit our website today to see how we can help!
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