Senior Health: Dental Hygiene

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October is National Dental Hygiene Month, a reminder of the importance of adopting healthy dental practices that promote healthy teeth and gums. Dental care is not just about cosmetics, it is an important factor in overall health. As a result, it’s important for seniors to take care of their oral hygiene.

Sometimes seniors who are using dentures believe dental care is no longer necessary. But dental health is important to manage throughout the aging process, with or without dentures.

Seniors need to understand the risks, complications, and unique challenges they face in taking care of their teeth and gums.

9 Reasons Dental Health Care Matters

  1. Heart disease can be linked to gum disease
  2. Poor oral hygiene can contribute to pneumonia
  3. Periodontitis can exacerbate diabetes
  4. Teeth darken without proper care
  5. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss
  6. Dry mouth poses digestive issues
  7. Root decay can be painful
  8. Teeth can move if others are lost and not replaced
  9. Ill-fitting dentures can be painful and unhealthy

Common Dental Challenges Aging Adults Face

While people of all ages are at risk of dental issues like cavities, there are several conditions that seniors are more susceptible to. Common dental challenges people face while aging include:

  • Dry Mouth A condition in which the mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, dry mouth affects the acid levels in the mouth. This can affect swallowing, digestion, and the teeth and gums negatively. Seniors are especially prone to this condition, especially if their medications list dry mouth as a possible side effect.
  • Root and Coronal Caries The decay of the teeth, basic dental caries are often just called cavities. The decay can affect the roots of the tooth and the jawbone as well. Caries can be caused by poor oral hygiene, a poor diet, dry mouth, and more.
  • Periodontitis Periodontitis is a gum infection and can cause inflammation and pain. It is often caused by poor oral hygiene or a buildup of bacteria in the mouth.

Best Tips for Managing Senior Oral Care

Most dental health problems seniors face are preventable with the right care. Unfortunately, there are many reasons that seniors do not maintain their oral health effectively. Common causes of poor oral hygiene among seniors include:

  • Decreased mobility
  • Impaired memory
  • Side effects of medication
  • Medical conditions that affect oral health

The best way to protect seniors’ dental health is to help them manage their dental care. Assisting Hands Home Care serving Cincinnati, OH are trained to help in various ways, including:

  • Help with brushing or flossing
  • Set reminders to brush or floss
  • Encourage seniors to use mouthwash
  • Drive them to regular dental cleanings

Simple strategies like these can help seniors avoid dental health problems. This can enable seniors to keep their natural teeth longer and to enjoy regular diets instead of having to switch to soft food due to tooth decay.

Remember that seniors who need dentures must practice oral hygiene too. Remind them that false teeth require care and cleaning, or they may do more harm than good.

Concerned that your loved one needs some extra help at home with basic personal care? Give Assisting Hands Home Care serving Columbus, OH a call. Our nurse care manager will meet with you for an assessment and find a professional caregiver to meet your loved one’s needs.

 

SOURCES: ClearCare, American Dental Association