Dental Considerations for Seniors with Sonya Dunbar

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Today we have the guest, Sonya Dunbar, a registered dental hygienist, and gerontologist. She shares her experiences as a volunteer in nursing homes and how she developed a business to provide comprehensive dental care for residents and long-term care facilities.



{01:26} How Sonya became interested in geriatric Dental.

{04:20} What to expect from your dental care after retirement.

{11:50} Toothpaste that will help with sensitivity.

{13:46} Daily brushing habits

{10:07} Dental-related problems for seniors they should be aware of

{23:11} Medication and the effects on oral health

{24:15} Things to look out for with the dentist.

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Sonya Dunbar Bio

Sonya Dunbar, AKA the Geriatric Toothfairy, is a Registered Dental Hygienist, TEDx, and International public speaker guided by over 30 years of dental experience in private practice, skilled nursing facilities, and academia. Sonya and her husband, Gerald Dunbar, are the owners of Mobile Dental Xpress, providing comprehensive dental care to long-term care facilities. In addition, Sonya is a geriatric oral health educator and trainer. Sonya works diligently to educate as many people as possible on the importance of oral health as we age. Sonya is a US Navy Veteran and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Gerontology.

Sonya is a serial entrepreneur, brand ambassador with over 100k social media followers, business coach, and Detox Stinkin Thinkin mindset coach for business owners and entrepreneurs.

The Co-Founder of the National Mobile & Teledentistry Dental Conference, The American Mobile Dentistry & Teledentistry Alliance, the prestigious Denobi Awards, and Sonya is behind the new I Woman Podcast and movement.

Sonya is the published author of three books and is a recipient of the 020 Philips Heart to Hands Award and the 2022 Sunstar Award. As if that is not enough, the National Day Archives LLC has proclaimed November 9th of each calendar year as Geriatric Toothfairy Day.

Connect with Sonya: 


Hey everybody and Welcome to the senior Reset podcast, we are talking to Sonya Dunbar. She is known as The Geriatric Tooth Fairy. She’s a registered dental hygienist and has a master’s in public health. Soon to have a doctoral degree in gerontology. 

Hopefully, I pronounced that right. She is going to be talking with us today about the dental issues that seniors are going to face. As we get older, as anyone who’s listening to this podcast knows, our goal is to create the education seniors need as they get older years, because there’s no college out there, and there’s no educational system that’s going to give us the information that seniors really deserve. 

And so today we’re going to be talking about dental hygiene and the dental issues that seniors face. So how are you doing today, Sonya?


Absolutely amazing and thank you for allowing me to be a guest on your show.


Oh, pleasure is all mine. Would you mind just giving us a little bit of your background and how you ended up focusing on dental issues for seniors?


Yes, I’ve been a dental hygienist for over 30 years, and my journey started a long, long time ago when my grandmother came to live with me and got really sick. She had diabetes. Heart complications, heart gum, and heart disease. And I couldn’t take care of her any longer at home. I had to put her in a nursing home. 

And then in the nursing home, I noticed that they weren’t taking care of her teeth; she had dentures, and they weren’t taking out her dentures and cleaning them daily. And that’s how my journey started. I started taking care of my grandmother’s teeth. I started going to the nursing home. I was there every day anyway. Every morning and every evening, I was there because I felt bad. I had to put her in a nursing home. But I was doing more harm to her at home than I was to her getting the care that she needed in a long-term care facility. 

And I started going up there to take care of her, and I noticed they weren’t taking care of her teeth. And then I started taking care of her teeth. Then I started taking care of other people’s teeth in a nursing home because the staff just didn’t understand the importance of it. And two, how to do it—how to perform that care. 

So that’s what started my journey many years ago. Working in long-term care facilities, taking care of people’s teeth in nursing homes, and educating the staff on how to take care of them and the importance of them. So that’s how my journey began from a personal place with someone that I loved who needed care.


So, I know that you’ve got a business helping out facilities. Would you like to tell us just a few minutes about this business that you’ve built taking care of seniors?


Yes, I really believe that whatever you start out with is a passion, if you’re really sincere about it, it can turn into profit for you. And that’s what happened. I was just volunteering, going into nursing homes, doing it for free, training the staff, brushing dentures, and flossing people’s teeth. And after doing that for so many years, I learned how to develop a business. 

So, we’ve been in business. Now, after 8 years of providing care for residents, comprehensive dental care for residents, and long-term care facilities. We are in two states and about to get into three or four more, two to three more states, and we go into service over 200 people a month in long-term care facilities, making dentures, and partials, cleaning their teeth, performing extractions, and other simple feelings. But one of the most important things is educating the staff on the importance of it was how we got started, and that’s where we are today.


Wow, I didn’t realize you guys made dentures, too. That’s actually something that my grandma used to do. She had a little shop in her house. I’ll never forget that, like seeing Her set-up So what? What issues do seniors face as they get older? You know what? What changes are happening in their mouths that are going to be different than what they face their entire lives?


Thanks for asking that question. First, the first thing is going to happen as some people become seniors over 65 and retire. The first thing that’s going to happen is that their dental insurance is going to change. It changes when you’re working. It puts you on a different plan, and that plan is almost like a supplement plan. Often, it doesn’t pay as much as your traditional insurance paid. 

So that’s the first big change because your dental insurance doesn’t pay as much as your PPO does. It may have gone to an HMO, for which you have to pay a supplement, but it doesn’t pay as much to the dentist.

So, at that time, it may not be a priority for the dentist to get you in. Well, they will call you every three to six months to remind you of your appointment and to remind you of the remainder of your deductible. You may not get those calls anymore because, at this point, you’re not a priority, and that’s a sad thing, and I’m not throwing dentists under the bus. But dentistry is a business, so that’s the first thing you have to do to make yourself a priority for dentists because your insurance has changed. The fee schedule has changed. There’s often a waiting list for those types of appointments. And you’re just not a priority because your insurance is not paying as much. 

The second thing that changes if you’re on different medications Sometimes, as we age, our medication changes. If you have high blood pressure, if you have diabetes or booth, if you have any sort of anxiety, asthma, sleep apnea, or all those machines or medications, the side effect of a lot of those medications is dry mouth or Xerostomia. That’s a dry mouth. If you have a dry mouth or Xerostomia that can be because you don’t have saliva. That can cause decay. Because saliva rinses away plaque on your teeth and around the gum line, 

But if you have a lack of saliva, that can cause decay, so now you’re getting more cavities. A lot of people think that as we age, we don’t decay. Cavities are not just for kids. As we age, we get cavities as well. That’s the second thing. 

The third thing is that as we age and our dexterity changes, we may not begin to develop gum disease because we’re not brushing and meeting areas like we used to. We’re not able to floss because of our dexterity, or three. We may not even remember to brush or floss. It’s as if dementia is starting to set in. 

So those are three main things that change as we age that we need to keep our eyes open for. 

Just going to throw in as a bonus, because I am the geriatric tooth fairy, if we have teeth, If we have ditchers or partials. It’s important that we continue to wear those because if we take them out, like if we’re not traveling as much as we need to or going to work, sometimes people, if they’re not working, take their porches out and put them in a cup because I’m not going anywhere for a week or two. But if you don’t wear your partials or dentures, they won’t fit like they used to. If you have a partial, this is a partial denture that hooks around certain teeth that your teeth will shift, and then you try to put your parcel in it. It won’t. Then you have to get it adjusted or get a new one, and the same with the dentures. If you have dentures and you don’t wear them unless you’re going out and taking pictures, they won’t fit as well as they used to because you’re beating your gums together and your bone decreases. 

So, there are a lot of things that happen as we age. This body just changes. It just happens to the best of us, and there are things that we need to be aware of because teeth are meant to last a lifetime. 

People tell me that some people think that their teeth are supposed to come out. No, your finger isn’t supposed to fall off when you get older, just as your teeth aren’t supposed to fall out when you get older. So that’s just a high level. I didn’t even get it implanted. or things like that. But that’s just a high-level overview of some of the things that happen as we age.


Well, I do. I never thought that sleep apnea was something that might contribute to tooth decay because almost every senior that I personally know either has a sleep apnea machine or is supposed to be using one but doesn’t. That can cause dry mouth, and that can cause gum disease and decay? That’s definitely new information to me.


Exactly. And especially if they have their mouth open, the mouth breathing is what gets it because it dries your mouth out.


Well, I use a sleep apnea machine myself, and even without my mouth open, I definitely wake up with a dry mouth a lot of mornings so.


There you go.


Yeah, that’s crazy. So, are there any other things that happen? And I’ve noticed with a lot of seniors that their gums seem to recede a little bit as they get older. So, like, what kind of other changes are happening in the mouth as they get older that might cause issues?


One thing you mentioned is a receding gum line that may cause sensitivity. A lot of seniors have sensitive teeth to heat and cold. That’s another thing that happens. And when your gum line recedes, that makes your roots more susceptible to root decay. 

So, root cavities are a big thing and also something that I’m seeing in people are in their late 70s and 80s, especially if they go into assisted living or long-term care if they have implants, are all on 4. All on-four is when people get all of their teeth pulled out and they have four to six implants on the top four or four to six implants on the bottom, and the denture is connected to that to hold it in place, which is a great thing. But if they go into nursing homes, I see a lot of people nursing. Homes that either don’t tell the staff that they have it or don’t remember to tell the staff and then two, the staff doesn’t know how to clean under it or they’re not aware that the person has it. 

So, we get a lot of bacteria up under those all-fours, and sometimes they come out. I have this case that I’m dealing with now. A lady had Two implants on her lower mandibular, which is her lower. Jaw in her mouth. 2 little implants She had a lower denture connected to it. She went to the hospital. They had to take that off to put her to sleep, and it got lost in the hospital. 

So now she’s a 78-year-old lady in a long-term care facility. Her dentist won’t touch her. He’s not coming there to make her another. Poetic over that. Another denture over that Pontiac So that’s a situation where she can’t chew. It’s a shame she’s dealing with her social act as well as her social skills. She doesn’t feel comfortable going out in front of people. Nobody wants to cut that. Those politics out at her age, with her heart condition, and make her a regular denture. 

So, we’re in a situation where we’re trying to get a dentist to go in and take an impression over that and make her denture over that, like an overdenture. So, there are a lot of scenarios and situations. That people have to face as we age—I mean, that’s why I’m glad to be on this show. 

So, for people who are not in long-term care facilities, we can tell you things that you can avoid. How to take better care of your mouth now So that… like my grandmother used to stay, say, “Baby, we know where we start, but we don’t know where we’re going to end up. We just don’t know where we’re going to end up. I try to tell people how to take care of their preventative measures as we age so that when we do end up in a long-term care facility or an assisted living facility, we have things and steps in place to help us.


So, you know, I see it all the time when, like in TV commercials, eight out of nine dental hygienists or dentists recommend this or that when you’re talking about tooth sensitivity and different things like that. Do those actually work? You know, if you have a receding gum line and it’s getting sensitive, like the toothpaste that claims to reduce sensitivity, do they actually help with that?


Most of them work a lot. If you see toothpaste with fluoride in it, that helps out. A lot of those who are sensitive to toothpaste sense that fluoride helps reduce decay. And if they have Sensodyne, if it’s some sort of Sensodyne toothpaste or sensitive toothpaste, those usually help out.


OK, cool. It’s good to know.


The best thing is to make sure that you make your regular dental appointments. Go in and tell your dentist or dental hygienist that you want fluoride. As we age, our dental insurance may not pay for us to get fluoride because that’s something they do for kids. But tell them I want fluoride because I have receding gums and sensitive teeth. Do a fluoride varnish. If I ask, you can request that. That helps out. Toothpaste or any sort of mouthwash with xylitol in it I’m a huge fan, and I’m not pushing any products.


the low-calorie sweeteners.


Yeah, xylitol is amazing. So, I use a toothpaste called Always. And you can only get it from your dental professional, but oh, my gosh, do I love it. It helps with sensitive teeth, and it helps with dry mouth because I’m in the stage of menopause and my mouth, my eyes, and my nose are very dry. 

So, I use xylitol. I mean, always, because it has all Italian and it just makes me and it has a spraying it makes my mouth just feel so good, and it also helps reduce decay. So, I’m getting two for one: a great-feeling toothpaste that gets rid of the dry mouth and a spray to go with it because when your mouth is dry, your breath smells, you know. So, it’s just a snowball going on. So yeah.


I had no idea, as I let’s all say was good for your teeth. So that’s interesting. I knew what it was, but I had no idea what it was. It’s good for your teeth like that. Let’s talk about daily habits.

So, you know that they say to brush twice a day. You know, most people do it maybe once a day. Are there changes as you get older in your dental hygiene habits that you need to make to try to keep your teeth healthy? Or is this the regular, you know, brushing twice a day or three times a day, depending on whether all that is still the same?


Well, I’m so glad you asked me that. Joel. Joel, I’m glad you asked me that. One of the biggest things that I can tell people as we age is to get an electric brush because, as we age, we just don’t brush as long as we should. And two, we do not hit every area like we should. 

So, there are two key things I’m going to say here. I’m a big component of an electric brush. I don’t care whether it’s the long one or the circle one, because that way you have a better chance of removing that decay. Now with the electric brush, this is how you use it. A lot of people use electric brushes incorrectly. When you go to the dentist, when they polish your teeth, they go on one tooth at a time. 

That’s what you’re supposed to do with your electric brush—lay it on the table. The gum line and sit there. Move it again. Move it again. But a lot of people take electric brushes and move them like a toothbrush. You’re not supposed to move an electric brush like a toothbrush. To sit it in one area. Sit in another area and just move it around like that all around your mouth. That’s the way you use an electric Brush, you don’t brush.


It’s already moving like 100 times a second, so you know you’re moving it with your hand back and forth isn’t doing anything.


It doesn’t do it. Then you’re missing what you said. You’re. You’re not allowing the brush to do what it’s supposed to do. So that’s one key. I’m going to give you. 

The second key is to get a water pipe. Firstly, if you have bridges and crowns now, I’m going to have to put a disclaimer out there, so any dental hygienists listening will not grow horns. Water PIK does not replace glossing. OK, nothing replaces flossing. But as we age, our dexterity gets different, and sometimes it’s difficult for us to floss. 

If you cannot floss, you should get a water pick. With some interdental picks like those little picks with their little yarn floss, someone in a pick on the other side can use that in between where you can and use a water peak, and that will help you, and you need to brush twice a day. You have to because as we get older, our oral care skills need to go up because if you get into a long-term care facility and you get the car, On your teeth. It’s so hard. It’s challenging to get a dental professional to come in and remove those teeth. 

And if you’re in a wheelchair on Jerry’s bed and you can’t transfer yourself, it’s difficult to find a dentist that has a place where you can move your wheelchair in, and they can service you because people in nursing homes get out of bed. Most of the time, they have a hoarder who lifts them up and puts them in a wheelchair. 

So, when we serve people, we serve them either in their bed or in a wheelchair. But if someone has to go to the dentist, who’s going to lift them out of their wheelchair and into the dental chair? If they are having problems standing up. What dentist wants the liability of someone falling in their office, and most dental chairs are stationary in the dental office? So, you want to take care of your teeth as long as you can so that you don’t have these problems as you age.


Yeah, you know, it’s kind of funny. The story that’s getting painted is that once you hit 65 and you start getting older, then you probably need dental care the most, the coverage declines, or you lose it entirely. I know several seniors who just don’t pay for the supplement. They just pay everything for dental out of pocket, which means they’re probably not getting as much dental care as they need. 

And so, when you need it the most, the coverage declines. Implementing those best practices at home can help you keep the money in your pocket, as well as a lot of discomfort; nobody likes the feeling of sensitive teeth. All of that stuff is extremely painful.

So, use an electric toothbrush and get a water pick. Make sure that you start doing it twice a day if you’re Not yet. That is all incredible advice, I’m thinking.


Oh, another The Geriatric Tooth Fairy tip is in there.


Oh, for sure.


Let me let me tell you something. Dental professionals are humans. They’re human beings, so in this case, if someone’s been going to their dentist for 10 to 15 years and you know your supplement is about to change, Listen, your dental office never had a problem coming to you and breaking down your treatment plan for you, letting you know when you had to pay and what you had to pay. They’ll take you to another little room and sit down and talk to you. Break it down. And what your insurance is going to cover and what you’re responsible for. 

I’m a big component of your having courageous conversations with your dentist. Say, listen. Hey, Dr. Happy Dr. Happy. I’m retiring in a year, and this is the supplement. I’m going to have so what type of plan could we work out so that I can come in and get an exam and cleaning every year and I can pay you if it is twice a year and I can pay you? What do we figure out? And then be quiet and let them give it to you. 

An answer because if you patronize their business for 10 to 15 years, they’re more than likely to work with you. But we have to make ourselves a priority because they’re moving. They’re quick-moving. So, if you tell them that and have that conversation, I don’t. They’re human. Most dentists want to help. They want to see your teeth for a lifetime. 


That makes a lot of sense. Yeah. So, what are some of the dental-related problems that seniors might be living with that they really shouldn’t be that they like? What are some things that, if the seniors listen to this and they know that they’ve got, you know, they haven’t been taking care of their teeth, what are some things that they can’t do or what are some things that they really need to see somebody about that could really cause problems if they don’t?


Answer that. First, start off with ill-fitting dentures. If you have to put gobs and gobs and gobs of glue into your denture, you need a reline or a new set of dentures. Oftentimes, people think dentures are meant to last a lifetime. They’re not. Most of the lifespan of dentures is five years, so if you haven’t lost your dental insurance, and you got your dentures made years ago. Go ahead and get another set made before you lose your dental insurance. If they’re ill-fitting, there’s nothing wrong with having two sets. Or get a reline. You know, start that now and get that process going. 

If you have to wear gobs to fix it, then that’s not normal. Same with your partial. If your partial is moving around when you’re talking. If you’re just flopping, get that adjusted to get that taken. If your gums bleed when you brush, but your teeth do not, the problem is with your gums. If you brush your teeth and your toothbrush is pink, or you spit your toothpaste in the sink, and it’s pink. Go see a doctor. Go see your dental professional. 

Because if your eye starts bleeding, you’re going to beat everybody to the emergency room. If you rub your eye and it bleeds, you’re going to go to the emergency room, because that’s not normal. Gum bleeding is not normal. It’s a sign of disease. That’s the next big thing you can do. Get that under control. Get that disease situation under control because the body is giving you a sign. Something’s going on here. There’s a plaque. This is breathing. There’s something going on. 

And if you have any pain with this tooth sensitivity when you eat something sweet? Or a tooth that hurts every now and then. That’s what that tooth is saying. Listen, I’m going to wake you up when you’re least aware. So those three things are dentures. No fitting 

Two Any blood in your mouth and any pain Go see your dinner professional. Let them know what’s going on. Don’t say it. It hurts every now and then. No, it’s not going to heal itself. It’s going to get worse. So grab it. Get it when it first knocks on your door. Don’t let it beat on you. Door hard. It’s giving you a warning, and then when it wakes you up at 2:00 in the morning, your eyes are going to go.


Well, you know, with the gum bleeding thing, you know it, it seems like to me every time I’ve realized that I’m not properly brushing or that I haven’t been, you know, flossing as I should. My gums bleed for a little bit, and then they stop after a couple of days. Is there, like, a rule of thumb for that? I realize I use an electric brush, which I love, but I realized that I wasn’t getting behind my front teeth properly, so it was a teeny bit sensitive, and I just kind of put my electric brush on it every day and every night was bleeding initially when I put extra emphasis on it, but then for about a week it stopped. Is there a rule of thumb on bleeding gums and when you should see a doctor? And when it becomes a problem.


Yeah, and that’s common if you have an area that’s a little sensitive to get a little swollen; that’s just your body letting you know. Hey, it’s a plaque under here. It’s irritating me. Get it out. Get it out like a splitter. And it’s the splinter. As long as that splinters in your Fingers are going to irritate you, but once you get the splint around your skin, your body’s going to heal up around it. It may be a little tender, but that’s how it’s going to happen. But if you just ignore that and the bleeding continues and is in more than one area, then you need to go to the dentist. But you should always have regular dental visits every six months, at the very least. 

But if the bleeding doesn’t stop, if you brush that air and it’s still bleeding, you’ve lost it, and it’s still bleeding. You rinsed with it, and it’s still bleeding. And yeah, definitely, you should go to the dentist about that. This is this call. Say, listen, I’ve got a spot that’s bleeding because it could be developing a pocket or something there. So, you want to get that taken care of before it gets worse?


You mentioned earlier in the beginning that medications can kind of mess with your gums and your teeth. Can you expand on that a little bit? Like, maybe what kind of medications might cause more issues, or what kind of issues the medications might be causing?


Only people who have seizures, but I think that’s what they take a lot of times. They’re going to swell up, and it’s because they have a lot of plaque and different things around their gums. That means a lot of extra attention. 

For any woman who’s taking some menopause medications, those sorts of medications may make your gums a little sensitive. They cause bleeding. Medications that dry your mouth out—As I mentioned earlier, anybody who takes any sort of asthma medication, medication for antidepressants, or any medications for things like diabetes and high blood pressure—those medications sometimes tend to dry out your mouth, and those can have an adverse effect on the health of your gums.


That’s the main issue: that it can cause dry mouth, and then that can cause gum disease from the dry mouth. And then are there any issues with dentists over-performing procedures? Seniors, you know, we’ve talked a lot about maybe not being able to get enough care, but are there any issues the other way around where you know there might be predatory dentists out there that are just trying to get as much money as they can or anything like that? Maybe not predatory, but you know?


Harsh word!


That’s a harsh word.


To think that there’s anybody out there that’s taking advantage, that’s a dental professional that’s made an oath to take care of people that they’re going to be victimizing. But I do find an issue there. You have 85-year-old people with dexterity issues and some early signs of dementia getting full implants in their mouth. Because those types of people most of the time end up in long-term care facilities, where, as I said earlier, the staff is not aware of how to take care of the dentures, the overdentures, or how to clean around the implants, and if someone has dementia, they have severe uncontrolled diabetes, a past cancer patient, or osteoporosis. Those people are not good candidates for Implants.

And I hate to see people with dexterity problems. You know, I hate to see those types of people get implants because they end up in long-term care facilities and fail because they’re not being properly cared for. They’re not being cleaned, and people have paid a lot of money, and it doesn’t seem fair. I’ll say that as best as I can, tiptoeing around the ethics.


People that get implants or dentures don’t really have, you know, their own teeth anymore. What kind of what? What do you need to do for dental care when they’re not natural teeth? Do you treat them just like regular teeth and keep them brushed?


{25:20} How to treat dentures. 



Oh, yes, they’re just them. Let me tell you something. I’m glad you asked that. Let’s go down this street. 

First of all, you should never sleep in dentures. If someone has dentures, you should sleep in dentures. There’s something called denture pneumonia that causes plaque. The same plaque that grows on teeth. There’s a plaque that grows. That plaque grows on dentures. And when people sleep, if there are food particles or plaque on their dentures, if they sleep, we’re deep, deep in here. When we sleep, bacteria can get in our lungs and cause Pneumonia aspiration.

So, people, should not sleep with dentures. Should all If you do sleep in them, which they don’t recommend, but some people have to sleep in them because they want to CPAP and they have to keep their mouth a certain way, you need to clean your dentures. They just need to, and I hear people saying, But I soak my dentures. No, you need to brush your dentures. Brush them because there’s food and plaque on them. They need to be brushed.

And the second thing is not with Toothpaste. You should never use toothpaste on your dentures because toothpaste is for teeth. Dentures are acrylic. They’re not real teeth. 

So, when you brush your dentures with toothpaste, you put little scratches in your dentures, and bacteria grow in there. 

So, you need to use denture toothpaste. There’s an amazing toothpaste that I highly recommend called Cleanadent by Doctor Berlin, I think it’s at Walmart or CVS, but I know it’s on Amazon. That’s the best denture cleaner in the world to me, that’s the only thing I recommend. I would use it on my grandmother. He’s not paying me to say anything about this, but I love to Cleanadent.

But if you don’t have toothpaste, you see. Dishwashing liquid is not as abrasive as toothpaste when cleaning braces. And you should always brush your dentures before you soak them. You need to soak them all the time, and you should not always wear your dentures. You need to take your dentures out and let your gums breathe. Now, I think I look good. I just do. And some if I have. Teeth. I don’t think I would take them out for long. I’ll probably take them out in the shower and throw some water on my gums. Maybe at the blow-dry, hit them, and then they’ll go right back in. 

So, I don’t think I would walk around without my teeth in if I had fake teeth. So, I understand some people won’t wear them or take them out. But your gums need to breathe. Sometimes you need to kind of take your dentures out and let your gums breathe. Wear your dentures all the time. It’s like wearing jump shoes after they get wet and wearing them all summer long and never taking them off. Can you imagine? How are those gym shoes going to smell?


That’d be pretty bad.


So yeah, you’ve got to take those dentures out, brush them, soak them, and let your gums breathe.


All right. Is there anything because we may have, you know, people that have caregivers or, you know, PCAs that might be listening to this? Is there anything that they should be keeping an eye out for with the seniors that they’re caring for?


{28:15} Things to look for when you have a nonverbal senior.



Absolutely. If you have a nonverbal senior they’re pulling on their jaw. Suppose they’re pulling on their faces if they stop eating. If they’re packing food, maybe they need to see a dental professional and try as much as they can to have them brush and take care of their own teeth as long as they can. The more independent someone is, the better. 

And if you can get them an electric brush, that’s even better. Even if you have to get the $8 electric brush from one of those dollar stores or something like that, they have them there. But you can. Use that. Put a battery in it, but anything that can help them brush their teeth, as long as they can’t do it independently, would be great.


Awesome. Do you have any other geriatric tooth fairy tips for us today?


Thank you for asking nicely. I do have one more that I keep in my pocket. I don’t want to tell anyone. That if you get sick. If you get a cold. Throw away your toothbrush. If you have a cold or even get COVID if you keep using the same toothbrush every day, you are just reinfecting yourself. 

So, first things first. If you have an electric breast and you get a cold, the flu, or anything else, put your electric breast away. Send somebody to the store and get a whole bunch of those cheap toothbrushes. Use a different brush every day and throw it away. You can go to one of those dollar stores and get a $1.25 brush or whatever they cost, but don’t keep reinfecting yourself, because that won’t make that cold last a little longer if you keep using the same brush and brushing your teeth. Brushing your tongue Come on.


Yeah, I always thought that way. Toothpaste would be like It doesn’t disinfect or anything.


Is it? I mean, I don’t know what two pages you’re reading. You use it but read the back of it and see if it says that these effects.


Oh, I’m sure it doesn’t. I just always kind of assume because it makes your mouth taste so minty. So, wow, alright. Yeah, I know. With a lot of the, you know, electric toothbrushes too. You know, once you’re aware that you’re sick, you can even. Toss out the top and just get a new top. For it. So yeah. And the price of those has gone down. 

So, if there’s anybody out there listening at the senior and you remember from like 10 or 15 years ago when the only electric toothbrush cost like 120 bucks, it is not that way anymore. They are very affordable. You can get them for kids for a couple of bucks, and we got them for our kids. 

Yeah, 8 or 10 bucks. You can get some of the lower-end ones, and you know, those can brush way faster than you’ll ever brush. Alright, well, I appreciate having you on today. You know, where can people find you if they want more words of wisdom?


Absolutely, and thank you. If you would like me to come speak at your nursing home, your senior organization, or your single senior group, I can be reached at or on my Facebook page. The Geriatric Tooth Fairy. I’m always happy to share ideas. Oral cancer screening tips, oral care tips, whatever I can do to help our seniors age and keep their Teeth for a lifetime.


All right. Well, thank you very much for coming on and talking with us, Sonya, and everybody else. We’ll catch you on the next episode. 


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