“Delivering Valentine’s is a simple gesture to remind all of us that we are loved.” –Matt Garcia, a former nursing home administrator.

Britten Periodontics & Implant Dentistry is a Periodontal Specialty office located in Clearwater, FL.  It is run by Todd M. Britten, DMD, MS and his incredible staff.  The office’s vision is to work together to provide excellent care to each person who walks through their door.  Their goal is for their patients to become family and have the best oral healthcare possible.  Being part of the community and giving back is a top priority for Britten and his team.

This Valentine’s Day, the staff was trying to figure out new ways to get involved and get out into the community.  One staff member, Julia May, had the great idea to deliver Valentine’s to older adults at a local memory center.

In order to make these valentines extra special a few team members enlisted the help of some very special students. The 2nd graders from Oakhurst school in Pinellas County and the Primary class at Beach Park Montessori in Hillsborough County.  “The teachers and students were so excited to get involved and contribute to help brighten up someone’s day!”  said Meg Britten.

Matt Garcia, a former nursing home administrator found out about what the staff at Britten Periodontics had planned and stated, “Delivering Valentine’s is a simple loving gesture to remind all of us we are loved.  What a great gift from the Britten Periodontics team!”

Being a periodontist office, one of their main specialty areas is gum disease.  Gum disease is very common in older adults.  “As we age, the conditions of our mouths change. Add to that any medications you may be taking and your mouth can seem quite different from when you were younger. Gum disease and cavities are common among older adults,” said Kendal at Home Blog (a blog “Dedicated to transforming the experience of aging.”)

Dr. Britten went on to say, “When a person ages their dexterity and ability to care for their teeth may change, making it more difficult to keep up with their oral hygiene.  In order to help care givers assist the residents at the memory care center we not only delivered valentines filled with love and good cheer, but we included toothpaste, floss and a pamphlet with ideas and techniques to help the older adults and their caregivers better care for their teeth.”

Research shows that oral health is connected to our overall systemic health.  Dental care is preventative care.

Here is some information that we shared with the residents:

Oral Health for Older Adults


What Can I Do To Maintain Good Oral Health?

For Seniors:

Drink fluoridated water at recommended level and brush with fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Fluoride protects against dental decay at all   ages.

Practice good oral hygiene. Careful tooth brushing and flossing to reduce dental plaque can help prevent gum disease. Caregivers need to help with daily oral hygiene routines of elders who are unable to perform these activities      independently.

Eat a balanced diet low in sugar and starches.

Avoid tobacco. Smokers have seven times the risk of developing periodontal disease compared to non-smokers.

Limit alcohol. Drinking high amounts of alcohol is a risk factor for oral and throat cancers. Sudden changes in taste and smell need not be considered a sign of aging, but a sign to seek professional care.

Professional care helps maintain the overall health of the teeth and mouth, and provides for early detection of precancerous or cancerous lesions. Make sure that you or your loved one gets dental care prior to having cancer chemotherapy or radiation to the head or neck. See your dental provider on a regular basis, even if you have no natural teeth and have dentures.

-courtesy of the Washington State Dept. of Health

For Caregivers

Wear clean, disposable gloves.

Sit loved one/patient upright or bring them to a sink.  Have a towel handy and a disposable cup for potential spills.  If sitting in a chair, stand behind them and cradle their head .

Using a soft bristle toothbrush, brush each tooth with a small circular motion and gentle pressure.    Angle the brush towards the gums as you brush the outside, inside, and chewing surface of each tooth.  Brush for two minutes, at least twice a day.  If available, electric toothbrushes are a good option.

Gently brush the tongue and roof of the mouth.

Have them rinse with water or a germ-fighting mouthwash.

Take a look at their lips and inside of the mouth.  If you notice any cracking, lumps, white or red lesions, or sores that do not heal within 2 weeks, you should consult a dentist or doctor.

Floss all teeth, dental bridges, and implants.  Other

dental aids such as interproximal brushes, floss

threaders or softpicks may also be helpful

Clean dentures daily and remove at night.

If they are unable to rinse, ask them to spit out any excess toothpaste and debris.  (Leaving a film of fluoridated toothpaste on the teeth can be beneficial.)   If your loved one/ patient  is resistant to your assistance, be patient.   Consistency, repetition, and encouraging words will help them adjust.

After Eating:

Remove any remaining food from your loved one’s mouth.  Gauze or a soft cloth can be helpful to wipe away excess food.  If brushing is not an option, ask them to rinse with a cup of water then spit back into the cup.  Frequent sips of water throughout the day will help cleanse the mouth.  Gum with xylitol is also a good option to help cleanse the mouth.

If Cleaning Problems Persist:

Ask your dentist about germ fighting rinses.   They may also prescribe a stronger toothpaste that contains more fluoride to prevent cavities.

Professional Dental Care:

Even if there are no problems, everyone should visit the dentist for a professional cleaning and exam twice a year.  Even those who wear dentures are in need of an annual dental exam.

-courtesy of Elizabeth Southern Puette, RDH, BSDH, MS
Member of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association

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