Poor dental health leading to malnutrition in the elderly

Few would believe that in our own first world nation that some people would suffer from Malnutrition.

However a recent paper published by the Faculty of Dental Surgery specifically mentions Malnutrition in one group of people. The elderly.

“Malnutrition. One of the immediate consequences of having an oral health problem is that people can find it more difficult to eat and drink. This can lead to malnutrition resulting in a wider deterioration in a person’s health. An estimated 1.3 million over-65s are malnourished and a third of older people admitted to hospital are thought to be at risk of malnutrition. Malnutrition inhibits recovery, increases frailty and can prolong the length of a hospital stays unnecessarily. ”

Oral health problems can manifest in many ways. And can develop in the older patient where previously there have been none. Gum disease leads to loose teeth and their subsequent loss, both making chewing difficult. Broken teeth and cavities can cause pain so that it is painful to eat  and drink. Ill fitting old loose dentures also cause problems when eating.

It is important to encourage our elderly friends and relatives to access regular dental care and to help them understand what they or their carers can do in order to maintain good oral health.

Prevention of problems is still key thereby giving our elderly folk the best chance of maintaining good nutrition and to keep their bodies nourished and healthy as possible.

Home visits – from a Dental Therapist viewpoint

Did you know our care extends beyond our treatment rooms in Kingsbridge?

Some patients are no longer able to attend their appointments here at Absolute. So we take our care to them. Of course, we cannot take the dental chair with us!

What we can bring is warm conversation & gentle guidance. The essential part of a home visit is to ensure the patient can keep their mouth fresh & healthy. This can include training for carers; assisted tooth brushing, denture care etc.

With a head torch, I can check the gum health and soft tissues of my patient & remove plaque build-up that has been missed by the toothbrush. If I see anything of concern I can recommend a Rhod or Ruth to visit.

Another benefit of a home visit is witnessing daily restrictions e.g unable to access bathroom sink. Advice can be tailored specifically a patients needs.

It is a privilege to be invited into someone’s home & I take pleasure in having a positive impact on quality of life. A healthy mouth is a happy mouth!

Christina, Dental Therapist

Can we give you, or someone you know, any extra help?

As we get a little older (or as I like to think, “more vintage”) things can become trickier or take a little longer.

Looking after you teeth can fall into this category, in my job as a dental hygienist/dental therapist I see a fair portion of the ageing population, you might be reading this as an older person or perhaps a carer or someone that cares for others as a job, either way I hope the following helps…

Dental health is so important in the older population and as ever at Absolute Dental prevention is better than cure.   Home care is so very important, we advised twice a day tooth brushing of the natural teeth with a fluoride toothpaste, along with interdental cleaning wherever possible, the removal and brushing of any dentures twice a day, soaking them in a denture solution (as directed on the packet) & ideally leaving these out at night time.

  • Recently I asked an older patient if they felt they would benefit from extra assistance with cleaning their teeth? Yes was the answer, but they explained they felt too proud to ask for help.
  • It may not always be the case that the person needs help brushing twice a day, they may, however, be tired in the evening or have aching joints aching or swelling that make evening brushing less of a thorough job!
  • Or maybe just needing help cleaning dentures as it’s too fiddly for them or perhaps not being able to stand at the sink for long enough to do everything needed to maintain good oral health.

It is important that this is a joint decision with the person needing a little extra help and the helper! If it’s your teeth, make sure you are clear about what matters to you, if you have a tooth paste you like, or a preferred denture soaking tablet/solution let the people around you know.

If you ever feel you need extra help and your helper in unsure of how they can assist you, you can always bring them along to you hygienist appointment and Christina and I will be more than happy to help you both!


Swimarathon Success!

Friday 13th was definitely a lucky day for some of the Absolute Team!
Your hygienists Rachael and Christina together with Kirsty, Ellie and myself made up a team of super girls taking part in this year’s Swimarathon.
The event was organised by the Kingsbridge Estuary Rotary Club and took place at the Quayside leisure centre in support of brilliant charities: Devon Air Ambulance, Home start (these are the Rotary Clubs chosen charities) and Cancer research UK (our chosen charity) which is particularly close to our hearts. So far we have raised £180.

The evening started with one of our lovely patients coming up to me saying that we had inspired her to do something for charity so she put a team together and took part!
After much deliberation in the changing rooms as to wear swimming caps or not, it was time to dive in.
The whistle blew and off we went, 3 ladies on each end of the pool relaying each other for a whole hour, displaying different strokes, swimming styles and speed…I must admit that I was the slowest member of our super team with my unique breast stroke come doggy paddle!
Thankfully, speed and ability were not what the event was about and the Absolute Team were very supportive of each other and other teams.
We were all so surprised when after an hour of swimming non stop, we found out that we managed to swim 123 lengths, being cheered all along by the volunteers and familiar faces in the public.
I had such a lovely evening with these ladies whilst raising money for charity and discovering muscles I did not know I had.
I think we will definitely take part in the next event and try to beat our 123 score.
Thank you to our very generous patients who have sponsored us, your kind donations will make a difference to people who really need it.

A very special and huge thank you must go to Ellie’s sister Shannon for stepping in when we needed an extra team member at the last minute. We know you had to give up a KFC meal for us and we are so very grateful for your efforts and all the giggles on the night.

Now it is time to start thinking about our next charity challenge…


HPV vaccination failure condemned across the dental profession

HPV (human Papilloma Virus) is to be refused to adolescent boys in the future. 400,000 boys will remain unvaccinated every year.

This has been criticised by our profession as this vaccine could protect boys from HPV related cancers.

HPV is one of the leading causes of mouth cancer and without the vaccination our profession will continue to see rises in the disease, which could so easily be prevented.

The JCVI report states “While it is clear that programme to vaccinate adolescent males would provide those vaccinated with direct protection against HPV infection, and associated disease, all the evidence suggests that the risk of infection in males has already dramatically reduced by the girl”s programme and that these herd effects will continue to have a substantial impact’. “ The additional benefits gained from extending the programme adolescent boys therefore would be small, relative to the impact of the girls programme.

As a profession we are campaigning for a gender-neutral approach to the vaccine.

2000 men every year are diagnosed with a HPV-related cancer, with half of those dying from the condition within the next five years.

What do you think fellas?

Gum Disease = 70% More Likely to Develop Alzheimers

A link between gum disease and cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease has recently been established.

A joint study led by Kings College London and the University of Southampton concluded that gum disease is associates with an increase in cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease, possibly via mechanisms linked to the body’s inflammatory response.

Patients who suffered with longstanding gum disease (10 year +) were 70% more likely to develop ALZHEIMER’S.

The links between oral health and diseases that affect other parts of the body are becoming increasingly apparent with every new piece of research advised Dr Nigel Carter OBE, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation. The good news is that gum disease is an entirely preventable disease, by ensuring consistent oral health, everyone can avoid gum disease.

The best approach to gum disease is prevention in the first instance. Our team of hygienists can help you with this.

At Absolute we work very hard as a team to improve gum health and work with patients of all ages to try and educate them of the risks that gum disease can have on all aspects of their general health.

We also take a great deal of time to educate carers of those with early stages of dementia, as the more sever the debenture becomes the worse the dental health becomes as taking care of oneself becomes more difficult.

If you need further help or advice for yourself or someone you are concerned about to drop us a line and we will offer you the best care and help that we can.


Tigers Take Care Of Your Teeth!

Lions and Tigers and Bears and every animal with teeth may have the same dental troubles that we do. Gum disease and gingivitis, broken teeth, and painful cavities.

Clearly Tigers do not eat Toffees, unlike the average human, so no risk of cavities for these big wild cats.

In zoos,  large animals such as lions and tigers are brought in for examination and treatment under anesthesia (of course) by Vets when necessary.

However, a Bristol-based dentist has managed to successfully treat a tiger, Tiger Khan, with a cracked fearsome five-inch-long canine teeth.

Dr Peter Kertesz led a 45 minute operation removing the cracked tooth and filling the fearsome Khan’s root canal after propping open the jaw of the 32-stone tiger.

Dr Kertesz said: “It was an important procedure, as infections like this can lead to more serious health issues if left untreated. It was excellent observation on behalf of his keepers to spot the problem early.”

Keepers at the zoo reported that Khan has since made a full recovery and his mood has improved considerably.

Much of animal dental care runs  parallel for humans’ care of their teeth.

A healthy diet can help animals maintain healthy teeth and gums. Regularly eating more abrasive foods can result in a “brushing” effect. Some types of pet food are even made larger pieces than normal so pets must chew each piece achieving a brushing effect.

When it comes to brushing many vets recommend brushing dogs’ and cats’ teeth daily, if possible. With specially designed toothbrushes, pastes, rinses and other oral hygiene products these can help keep your pets’ teeth as healthy as possible.

Regular dental examinations for our pets (large and small) are important with prompt treatment of diseased teeth and gums.

So Tiger or Tabby …. things are just the same when it comes to avoiding toothy troubles for these kitty cousins.

Ruthie x

To Floss or Not To Floss? – That is The Question

As a dental nurse, I get to hear lots of responses to the following question from Dentists and Hygienists to patient; ‘So what are you using to clean in between your teeth?’

Responses tend to fall in to two categories; those patients who know exactly what interdental aids they are using, and those who admit to using nothing yet say they know that they really should be. So why are Dentists and Hygienists asking patients this question? There are several reasons:

  • Tooth brushing alone can’t reach into all the tight spaces between your teeth and under the gum line. By using floss or interdental aids you’ll be able to remove more plaque (tooth brushing alone means you are missing 35% of your tooth surfaces…..yuk).
  • Plaque is a soft, sticky substance that develops when food debris is left behind.  You can remove it yourself at home with tooth brushing, floss and interdental aids. It’s what makes our teeth feel “furry” when we run our tongue over them.

  • By using floss and interdental aids you will prevent the formation of calculus. Calculus is hardened plaque. Calculus can only be removed by a visit to the Dental Hygienist.  However, once calculus has formed it will make it harder to toothbrush and floss effectively, in turn harbouring harmful bacteria which can cause cavities and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).

Prevention is better than the cure!

Dentists and Dental Hygienists care passionately about your oral health and ensuring your mouth is as healthy as possible. At your appointments, whilst it may feel like a telling off, your dentist or hygienist just wants the best for you. By implementing flossing and interdental aids into your daily routine you can be assured that you will be doing your best to prevent conditions such as gingivitis, cavities and preventing harmful bacteria that has been shown to impact on other diseases of the body such as diabetes and heart disease.

Attending your regular maintenance appointments at Absolute Dental you can be assured that your Dentist and Hygienist will assist you to ensure that you have all the tools and skills to make sure your mouth is as healthy as possible. Then it’s up to you to implement this into your daily routine; think 3 R’s;

  • Reminder – when you pick up the toothbrush, this is your reminder to clean interdentally.
  • Routine – floss and use any interdental aids before tooth brushing.
  • Reward – you know that you’re doing your best to maintain your oral health and preventing any other conditions arising.


Oral piercings and oral risk – what they don’t tell you at the piercing parlour

Whether you think they’re a striking way to express yourself, or a barbarous body modification, there’s no denying the popularity of oral piercings is on the rise, especially amongst young people. Often when individuals chose to undergo an oral piercing, their first thought is about the aesthetic effect of the jewellery, and not the risks an oral piercing poses. Unfortunately, this means sometimes the piercing ends up infected, or even permanently damaging teeth. Oral piercings can pose a serious threat to both teeth and oral hygiene, and this is not information that is common knowledge. In fact, at least 50 percent of people with lip piercings experience injury to gums or teeth.

Primarily, oral piercings are made of metal, and therefore can cause inconvenience in dental treatment and examinations, especially regarding the taking of x-rays. This metal can also cause abrasion, wearing, chipping and sometimes even breakages in the teeth, which is not easily rectifiable. This can also lead to an increase in tooth sensitivity, which can be extremely painful and prevent individuals from enjoying their food. Our mouths are always moving, and this means the piercing is moving too, rubbing against many different surfaces in the mouth. The constant rubbing action of lip or tongue piercings against the gums can lead to gum recession, where the gums shrink back to protect against the relentless rubbing, which leaves tooth surface exposed to potential acid erosion, which can lead to sensitivity, decay and even tooth loss! Not to mention, poor oral hygiene concerning a tongue piercing can give you awful bad breath, not pleasant for anybody!

Now, this is not to say that good oral health means no oral piercings for you! Oral piercings can be made safe by regular visits to the dentist to check how the jewellery is affecting your mouth, and to monitor any damage. To avoid the risk of infection, oral piercings should be cleaned properly every day, taken out as often as you can, and worn only when wanted (there’s no need for you to sleep with piercings in!) As always, when considering an oral piercing, the first person you should take advice from is your dentist!

Where does The Tooth Fairy come from?

No one is really sure where the legend of the tooth fairy came from…

Some say that Viking warriors used to pay children for their teeth, to take the teeth into battle as good luck charms. If this is to be believed then maybe Hollywood didn’t go too far wrong with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a Tooth Fairy!

In the Middle Ages, it was believed that witches could gain control over you if they had a piece of you – hair, clothing, or teeth – with which to work their magic. Therefore, parents used to bury their children’s teeth in the garden so the witches could not find them.

Luckily nowadays things are a little lighter and we have a lovely fairy, male or female the jury is still out but what we do know is they definitely wear a pink tutu and collect children’s teeth from under their pillows. In exchange for these teeth they traditionally leave a gold coin, although there have been rumours of paper money being left, we put this down to inflation in some areas, but don’t panic parent’s gold coins are still most widely used.

We also know that the Tooth Fairy only pays the full price for a healthy tooth, less or nothing for a tooth with cavities and for lost teeth you can leave a note explain where the tooth was lost.

So still the moral of our story is clean those teeth twice daily with a pea sized amount of Fluoride toothpaste to keep them nice and healthy and Tooth Fairy worthy.