Flossing Tips for Seniors

Flossing is an important part of keeping the mouth healthy. This process removes food and bacteria from between teeth, helping to prevent infections, tooth decay, and gum disease. Unfortunately, many elderly adults have either never flossed or stop flossing as they get older, believing that it is no longer important. As their family caregiver it is important that you emphasize to them the importance of flossing to improve and protect their oral health and to prevent potentially serious health problems throughout their bodies. In order to get the most benefit from their flossing, however, it is very important that they floss carefully and safely.

Use these tips to help your senior floss effectively:

  • Choose the right products. There are many products available that help with flossing, from traditional string floss to water flossers. Talk with your parents and their dentist to identify the products that might be most comfortable and most effective for your parents considering their own teeth and any existing problems

  • Create a routine. Some people choose to floss before brushing their teeth and some choose to floss after. Most experts agree that it doesn’t matter when a person’s losses, as long as they are flossing. Help your parent to create an oral health routine that includes brushing, flossing, rinsing, and use of a protective mouthwash. Follow through with this routine each morning and evening so it becomes a regular part of your parents day.

  • Make sure that they are being safe. It is easy to damage the gums when flossing, particularly if your parent is not familiar with flossing. They may push too hard and create cuts in the gums that can become painful, inflamed, and even infected. Encourage your parent to floss thoroughly, but gently. If there are any questions regarding the proper technique for flossing, particularly if you are changing the product that your parents uses, talk to their dentist and get a demonstration.