It is important to maintain good dental health as you get older. Here you will find information on how you can look after your teeth or dentures.
Regular dental check-ups are important to ensure you prevent against tooth decay and it is recommended that you visit your dentist at least once a year. Tooth decay can lead to pain, infection, broken or discoloured teeth and may cause bad breath, stomach complaints and other problems.
Signs of tooth decay
- White, brown or yellow spots on your teeth
- Sensitivity to hot or cold foods
Preventing tooth decay
- Reduce your intake of sugar-rich foods and drinks
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day – for two to three minutes
- Use a toothbrush with soft rounded bristles
- Replace your toothbrush every two to three months.
It is important to visit your dentist regularly to have your dentures checked because your gums change as you get older and this can make dentures become loose. It is recommended that you visit your dentist at least once a year.
Poorly fitting dentures may stop you enjoying your food by preventing you from chewing properly. This in turn can lead to stomach upset.
If you have not worn your dentures for some time due to discomfort, you should visit your dentist. During the visit, your dentist will give you a check up and if necessary organise a set of dentures that fit you properly.
Caring for your dentures
- Brush all the surfaces daily with a toothbrush - to remove any loose debris
- Soak them daily in denture cleaning solution
- Brush them daily using a toothbrush and toothpaste.
Gum disease is caused by a build up of bacteria called plaque. This bacteria forms on the teeth and gums but is preventable through good dental hygiene and regular dental check-ups.
Signs of gum disease
- Teeth that look long – due to receding gums
- Gums that bleed when flossed or brushed
- Persistent unpleasant taste or bad breath
- Teeth which have changed position
- Tender and painful gums
- Swollen red gums
- Loose teeth.
Preventing gum disease
- Brush your teeth at least twice per day
- Floss between your teeth regularly
- Visit your dentist regularly.
It is important to maintain good dental health, especially if you are having a hip replacement or heart surgery. Poor dental health may mean your surgery will have to be postponed.
Smoking is harmful to all aspects of your health, including your dental health and causes:
- Bad breath
- Unpleasant taste
- Tartar on teeth
- Stains on teeth, tongue and dentures
- Gum disease.
The HSE provides free dental services to Medical Card holders. If you do not hold a Medical Card, you may be eligible for dental benefit under the Treatment Benefit Scheme, which is operated by the Department of Social and Family Affairs. Contact the Treatment Benefits Section on the number below.
HSE National Information Line
Monday to Saturday, 8am-8pm
Call Save: 1850 24 1850
Citizen’s Information Centres
LoCall: 1890 777 121
Free and confidential service
Department of Social and Family Affairs
Treatment Benefits Section
LoCall: 1890 400 400