Now more than ever, elderly loved ones need to spend time making sure their oral hygiene and dental health are in good shape. Good dental care doesn’t stop because an elderly person has lost some or even all of their teeth. No matter what age or condition their mouth is in, seniors can definitely benefit from good oral hygiene and regular dental visits.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, seniors are at a high risk for poor oral health for a number of reasons, so family caregivers need to make it a priority in their elderly care routines. Challenges they face include difficulty in brushing and flossing, lack of dental insurance, de-sensitized nerves in the mouth, and an increase in tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer due to age. That’s why family caregivers need to make good dental health a priority for their aging loved ones.
Here are 5 Tips for good dental heath in elderly loved ones:
1. Establish a Routine
Family caregivers and home care assistants need to set up and enforce a good routine for the elderly. It should include brushing and flossing twice per day with fluoride toothpaste. If arthritis or a weakened grip makes it hard for the elderly loved one to do the basic tasks, there are specialized tools out there than can help, from an electric toothbrush to long-handled flossing sticks. Regular cleaning for dentures with the proper products is also important.
2. Use Fluoride
Seniors should try to get as much fluoride as their bodies need to boost oral health. Family caregivers should choose toothpaste with fluoride and even help their aging loved ones use a fluoride rinse to bathe the teeth in this cavity-fighting substance. While many communities put fluoride in the water supply, there are still lots of places that don’t. Seniors can also drink fluoridated bottled water to boost their intake.
3. Fight Dry Mouth
Many medications that seniors regularly take have the side effect known as dry mouth. This is a significant reduction in saliva and can be a detriment to oral health. Saliva contains many antibacterial elements that help fight cavities. It also washes away food particles and prevents them from wedging near the teeth and causing plaque. To combat dry mouth, seniors should drink lots of water and chew sugarless gum if possible.
4. Reduce Smoking and Alcohol
It’s a good idea to give up smoking due to the numerous health problems it causes, and oral health is no different. Those who smoke or chew tobacco have a much higher risk of oral cancer and throat cancer as well as periodontal disease. Alcoholic beverage consumption has also been liked to higher rates of oral cancer.
5. Schedule Regular Dental Checkups
Seniors need to see a dentist at least twice per year so they can get an exam by a professional. The dentist will check out their mouth for any tooth decay, gum disease and pre-cancerous lesions that might be forming. Often, seniors have desensitized nerve endings in the mouth and don’t feel pain associated with oral problems before things have progressed very far. The dentist can also check to see that the dentures are fitting properly and not causing irritation or even mouth ulcers. Transportation to appointments can be done via family members, home care assistants or ride services.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care in Spring Branch, TX, please call the caring staff at At Your Side Home Care. We will answer all of your senior care questions. Call today: (832) 271-1600.
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