Older adults with
arthritis sometimes have trouble brushing their teeth
because they cannot easily hold the toothbrush. Their hands and fingers may be
stiff, painful, or weak. If this is the case, you can:
- Enlarge the handle of your toothbrush by
wrapping a sponge, an elastic bandage, or adhesive tape around
- Push the toothbrush handle through a ball made of rubber or
- Make the handle longer and/or thicker by taping Popsicle
sticks or tongue depressors to it.
- Use an electric
You may also be able to buy specially designed toothbrushes,
toothpaste dispensers, and floss holders.
To keep your teeth and gums healthy, you should:
- Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day-in the
morning and at night-and floss at least once a day. Plaque can quickly build up
on the teeth of older adults.
- Watch for the signs of gum disease.
These include gums that bleed when you brush your teeth or when you eat harder
foods, such as apples.
- See your dentist regularly. Many experts
recommend checkups every 6 months.
- Keep your dentist up to date on
any new medicines you are taking.
- Eat a balanced diet that includes
whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and is low in saturated fat and sodium.
Good nutrition is vital to maintaining healthy gums and avoiding tooth decay.
- Avoid using tobacco products. They can affect your dental health
and your general health.
Many older adults have a fixed income and feel that they cannot
afford dental care. But most towns and cities have programs in which dentists
assist older adults by reducing fees. Contact your area's public health offices
or social services for information about dental care in your community.