We can think of so many health care concerns when dealing with the elderly. Since very serious conditions can be complicated over the years, doctors and family members focus on what is most crucial for survival. It shouldn’t be overlooked how important continued oral hygiene is for the elderly. Many of the elderly have lost a lot of teeth because of improper dental care. The following are tips for the continued improvement of elderly dental health.
Most of the elderly, about 70%, are able to still have their teeth, as they get older. It’s only in extreme cases where the teeth end up being lost. However, it is not the time to start becoming slack with oral hygiene. As the wear and tear has accumulated over the years, there is a basic cosmetic need to the upkeep of the smile. Years of stain build up can be addressed, as well has kept from increasing. One tip to helping teeth would be to change certain habits that have left an impression over the years on the teeth, like drinking coffee or smoking. This is typically something the doctor will suggest curbing as well.
The elderly should continue brushing after every meal like they have been doing all along. As they get older, there are other health risks that can be exacerbated by poor dental hygiene. Periodontal infections are common amongst elderly people. Diseases can develop or may have already developed which will complicate breathing, heart problems, and diabetes. They should always make sure that oral hygiene is maintained in every way possible. Sometimes it may be necessary to switch medications that tend to dry out the mouth, and reduce saliva production. This can cause dental decay.
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities do not typically have the ability to provide the elderly with the necessary dental visits. What ends up happening is that the elderly lose a lot of the attention they need for their teeth. Medicare does not cover dental expenses, so payment for visits and examinations are usually out of pocket. It’s a good idea to look for long-term care facilities that have a dental hygiene program. A Surgeon General’s report explained how oral health is closely related to general health and wellness. This only becomes truer as we get older.
The mouth is often the telltale sign of what’s going wrong with the body. The symptoms of many diseases will manifest themselves at the mouth. Certain medications that cause dry mouth should be countered with more consumption of water. This will keep the mouth hydrated and combat a lot of potential tooth decay. It’s best to encourage a loved one to brush regularly, even if there is a degree of discomfort associated with brushing, like from arthritis. Even dentures need to be checked to make sure they fit properly so that foods do not accumulate. There are several ways in which the elderly can combat dry mouth which can cause tooth decay: using available saliva substitutes, special toothpastes, non-alcohol based mouthwash, and avoiding dry and salty foods.