The risk for dental problems, such as tooth loss, dry mouth, root decay, and gum disease, increases as people age. Poor oral health can also result in infections, diabetes, and heart disease. Family history, health conditions, and medications can play an important role in predicting the oral health of your elderly loved one.
Take some advice from a dentist who has seen the changes as patients age first-hand. Here are the top six elderly dental care tips to help your loved one keep dental problems and other related health issues at bay.
Brush and Floss Daily
Your elderly loved one is likely to have heard about the significance of daily brushing and flossing since childhood. Brushing and flossing daily are a good way to maintain and improve good oral health. Most dentists will recommend brushing at least twice a day. When buying toothpastes for your elderly loved one, look for those with higher amounts of fluoride, as your loved one will benefit from this mineral. Encourage your elderly loved one to floss at least once a day. If medical conditions, such as arthritis, affects your elderly loved one’s ability to floss properly, they can try water pick or a flossing tool. Even as you are trying to help your elderly loved one manage and prevent serious health conditions, it is crucial to encourage them to make smart decisions for good oral health.
Avoid Tobacco Products
You should advise your elderly loved one to stop chewing tobacco and smoking cigarettes. Besides lung cancer, tobacco use can cause cancers of the throat and mouth. Tobacco products, especially those that contain sugar, can even cause gum disease and tooth decay. Your loved one’s dentist or doctor can recommend ways to help quit smoking for good.
Use a Good Toothbrush
When buying a toothbrush for your elderly loved one, choose one with soft bristles and a small head that gets to the back of the mouth easily. Look for elderly dental care products approved by reputable dental associations. If your elderly loved one suffers from a health condition that makes it hard to brush, such as arthritis, consider getting them a battery-operated toothbrush. Ensure that you replace your loved one’s toothbrush when the bristles begin to fray or every three months.
Water is essential for all body aspects, including good oral health. Ensure that your elderly loved ones drink enough water every day, especially if they take medication that leads to a dry mouth. It is important for your loved one to cut back on alcohol consumption since it can lead to dehydration. They should also chew sugar-free gum, which helps to create saliva and prevents the mouth from drying out. It is important to note that over 30% of elderly people experience dry mouth, which can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Prevent your elderly loved one from these dental problems by keeping them hydrated.
Use Antibacterial Mouthwash
Bacteria and germs in the mouth can lead to plaque buildup, gum disease, and finally missing teeth. Buy your elderly loved one an antibacterial mouthwash to help avoid these dental issues. It is important that he or she uses the mouthwash every time they brush or floss to rid the mouth of the germs and bacteria provoked while cleaning. People who wear dentures might be more susceptible to bacteria buildup, so ensure that your loved one’s dentures are always clean. Ensure that your elderly loved one removes their dentures a few hours every day. The best time to remove the dentures is at night before going to bed. When your loved one goes for elderly dental care visits, the dentist can advise them on how to care for dentures.
Make Regular Visits to the Dentist
Regular dental checkups are recommended for everybody, including seniors. Your elderly loved one might need to see the dentist more frequently if they are experiencing any main changes in the mouth, like loose teeth, swelling, bleeding, lumps in the mouth, or difficulty eating. The dentist will check for different dental problems at every visit to ensure early diagnosis and treatment.
Good oral health can help your loved one live a happy life in their golden years. These elderly dental care tips will help your loved one maintain and improve their oral health, which is an important aspect of overall health.