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Many conditions affect the oral cavity. These can be conditions such as ulcers, or thrush, or more concerning, such as oral cancer. The risk of developing an oral cancer increase with age. When a person has dementia or is being cared for, they may not be aware of persistent ulcers or changes in the soft tissues. Having a brushing chart within their care plan can be a useful tool for recording these, monitoring and flagging out to the dentist any persistent problems. When carrying out personal care, check the mouth for any sore, red, swollen or white patches. If anything looks out of the ordinary, then record it on the brushing chart with as much detail as possible. Record which area of the mouth it's in, as well as the size and appearance. If an ulcer has not changed, or healed, or changed shape in two weeks, consult your GP or dentist.

Thrush is a common oral condition caused by a fungal infection. This can be due to poor denture cleaning or not taking the dentures out at night or can indicate an underlying medical condition. Treatment is usually effective and non-invasive by using anti-fungal medication. If it happens often, then check that you're caring for the denture correctly and your oral hygiene routine is correct. Then consult your GP for potential further investigations.

As we age, our natural saliva production decreases. This can be further impacted by certain medications commonly used, such as anti-depressants or antihistamines. This can lead to a dry mouth and xerostomia. Xerostomia can make wearing dentures very difficult and uncomfortable. It can impact on caries or tooth decay, and periodontal disease, or gum disease, as well as a patient sleeping, eating and general well-being. Measures such as sipping water, eating foods with high water content, or accompanied by gravies and sauces can help.

Saliva replacements and saliva stimulants can be useful. Pastilles, toothpaste, and mouthwashes that promote saliva, or gels and sprays that act as saliva replacements can be very useful. Some of these products are available on prescription and most can be bought over the counter. Speak to your community pharmacy if you feel they may be of benefit.

The most common oral condition will be periodontal disease or gum disease. This happens when plaque deposits build up on the teeth. If these are not cleaned away, the plaque hardens and can form calculus, which is harder to remove. These deposits build up above and below the gum level and can lead to bleeding gums which retract away from the teeth. As this progresses, the bone level is lost, leading to loose teeth. This can be prevented with an effective oral hygiene routine. If this is not possible, interventions from tooth brushing to deep cleaning in the dental practice may be needed. If a patient's compliance is challenging, then they may require more frequent dental visits to the hygienist for a thorough cleaning.