There is clear evidence that gum disease is a risk factor in systemic diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer and respiratory disease, so the importance of good oral health in the elderly goes beyond the cosmetic. Now, a new review has brought together first-hand accounts of older patients, revealing what concerns might be stopping them from attending regular dental appointments.

Common barriers cited were dental anxiety, poor general health that made visits difficult, the cost of treatment and physical limitations on travel.

 Barriers to dental visits

dental care and the elderly

  • Forgetfulness was mentioned often
  • Cost was a common concern
  • Not caring about dental health in the same way as they did when they were younger
  • Access was mentioned as a problem, as older patients often require help getting to the surgery
  • Illness was frequently mentioned – one patient said: “I’ve been so ill that I haven’t got around to it”
  • Others that were interviewed admitted that dental anxiety only worsens as you get older

Drilling down into possible barriers to seeking regular dental care is even more important in the light of a new UK study that has found that poor oral health increases the risk of frailty in older men. Published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers observed over 1,000 men over a three-year period and found a link between poor oral health and problems such as weight loss, exhaustion, reduction in walking speed and a reduction in physical activity.

One in five men had no teeth, over half had gum disease, nearly a third had dry mouth and one in ten had trouble eating.

Common dental problems in the older patient

Root decay: as we age gum tissue recedes and the roots do not have the same enamel protection as the tooth, making them susceptible to decay.

Risks of other diseases: oral infections can make blood sugar levels spike which can potentially lead to the development of diabetes.

Dry mouth: many of the medications that older patients require to treat degenerative diseases can cause dry mouth. The mouth requires saliva to protect the teeth from decay and, if left untreated, dry mouth can lead to the development of tooth cavities and gum disease.

With the link between poor oral health and overall health, it is essential that urgent and preventative intervention is required.


By the time we reach adult life, many of us have adopted a tooth brushing regime that we are fairly comfortable with. Nevertheless, there is always room for improvement. As dental technologies evolve and improve, new products become available that can help push your oral hygiene even further, and help maintain healthy teeth and gums.

There are new ways of brushing teeth that many people are not aware of – the dental industry has a responsibility to ensure that people know what is out there and what is best for their teeth. The staff here at CK Dental think it’s important that patients are kept up to date and are made aware of interesting new dental innovations.

One such new innovation is the interdental brush, which offers a modern alternative to flossing.

A new, tiny type of brush is available that can be used in conjunction with a traditional (manual or electric) toothbrush. These tiny brushes are called ‘interdental brushes’, they are conical shaped and specially designed to get into the small spaces between your teeth.

Interdental brushes are effective in removing plaque and bacteria by interproximal brushing (in laymen’s terms, getting in between the tiny gaps between teeth). It is not possible to remove all plaque and bacteria by conventional brushing alone, hence why flossing has always been recommended. Interdental brushes can offer a different approach that can be less fiddly compared to trying to squeeze a length of floss in-between your teeth.

Interdental brushes can be used every day as part of your regular brushing routine, and they come in lots of different shapes and sizes. Some people will opt for a series of interdental brushes, as they require different sizes to get into the different sized gaps between teeth. Once you’ve started to weave this into your oral hygiene routine, it soon becomes second nature, and your teeth and gums should feel cleaner as a result.

Many people find that using interdental brushes is a lot more user-friendly compared with floss, so they are less likely to become discarded and ignored at the back of the bathroom cupboard. When you first start using an Interdental brush, you may experience some slight bleeding from gums as they get used to the intrusion. This should be temporary and is usually the case when you first begin flossing too. This should clear up fast and as long as you’re not forcing the brushes into gaps that are too small for the size of the brush, you should not feel any discomfort.

Interdental brushes: what’s best, Vision or Tepe?

Having discussed the merits of interdental brushes, the next question is how to choose what type of interdental brush to use. There are a variety of offerings, but the two main types are Vision brushes and TePe brushes. Here at CK Dental, we look at the differences between the two, so you can make an informed choice which is best for you and your oral needs.

Vision brushes

  • Vision interdental Perio brushes claim to be an “easy, effective and great value for money solution” to keeping your teeth and gums healthy
  • They are available in a variety of different sizes, which means you can squeeze them into the different sized gaps between your teeth. Your dentist will be able to help advise which size(s) are going to be most suitable for you
  • The brush has a curve to it (similar to the shape of an elongated hockey stick), which allows easier access into the hard-to-reach areas of the mouth
  • The USP of the vision brush is that it “compresses gum tissues for a deeper clean than other brushes or dental floss.”

TePe brushes

  • TePe interdental brushes are “designed to clean between teeth, around bridges, fixed appliances and implant abutments. They help to maintain a high standard of oral hygiene .”
  • There are also available in a variety of sizes
  • These brushes are conical in design, with a soft, ergonomic handle and a plastic coated central wire to ensure that teeth and gums are cleaned safely and gently
  • TePe brushes can be straight or on a curved handle, depending on whether you’re tacking the teeth at the front of your mouth of the trickier ones at the back.

Thumbs up for interdental brushes

Both styles of brushes have their merits and it will largely be down to personal preference with once you feel most comfortable using. Regardless of which you’re leaning towards, the concept of interdental brushes has the experts convinced. A review of nine dental studies recently concluded “interdental brushes used as an adjunct to [normal] toothbrushing removes more plaque than just toothbrushing and that dental floss and woodsticks are surpassed by interdental brushes in plaque removal.”

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Telephone: 0117 9059 866

CK Dental | Nuffield Health Bristol Hospital – The Chesterfield, 3 Clifton Hill, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1BN