As we age, our bodies undergo a wide range of changes, from the invisible weakening of joints to the apparent loss of youthful skin. However, an often overlooked aspect of health in our twilight years is oral health. Most seniors are more likely to start neglecting their oral health as they grow older, and this neglect is a sign they need help maintaining their dental well-being.
Maintaining good oral health is crucial to overall well-being as it helps avoid common challenges such as tooth decay and gum disease. This article will discuss some tips for maintaining good oral health in seniors. But first, let’s look at some challenges of poor oral hygiene.
Common Health Challenges Seniors Face
Tooth decay can affect individuals at any age. However, seniors are more susceptible to the issue due to various factors, including changes in saliva production, medication and limited mobility (restricts personal hygiene practices).
Gum disease, also periodontal disease, is another prevalent oral health issue in older adults. Many seniors wonder, “Do gums recede with age?” the short answer is ‘yes.’ Gum disease and recession are more common in older adults due to the cumulative effects of poor oral hygiene, leading to issues such as plaque, tartar and weakened immune response.
Dry mouth is caused by reduced saliva flow. It is a prevalent issue in older adults due to various factors, including tobacco and alcohol use, mouth breathing, systemic health problems and decreased salivary gland function.
Tooth loss in older adults can occur due to gum disease, decays and cavities, normal wear and tear and poorly fitting dentures. So, for individuals wondering, “Do gums recede with age,” the signs might manifest in the form of many things, including tooth loss.
These oral health challenges, including tooth decay, gum disease, dry mouth and tooth loss, can have a negative impact on the senior’s quality of life. Their presence brings along pain, discomfort, difficulty eating and, sometimes, impaired speech. Others can even affect the individual’s self-esteem. With that in mind, it is essential to address these challenges to ensure that seniors can enhance their overall quality of life during their golden years.
The Role of Caregivers in Maintaining Seniors’ Oral Health
Senior care providers play a crucial role in maintaining their oral health. It is a collaborative effort that requires the dedication of both the older adult and the caregiver. But how can a caregiver assist seniors in maintaining good oral health?
Educating seniors about the importance of maintaining good oral health is the first step toward helping them keep their gums and teeth in good shape as they age. Caregivers should ensure that older individuals are aware of the link between oral health and overall well-being and, consequently, the importance of daily oral hygiene and regular check-ups.
Senior care providers should also take over the responsibility of scheduling appointments with the senior’s dentist. Regular dental check-ups can be done every six months; however, seniors with specific oral health concerns can schedule more frequent visits or opt for dentist home visits for elderly.
Setting Reminders for Oral Care Routines
Seniors are more likely to forget daily oral routines, such as brushing and flossing. For that reason, caregivers should help set reminders to maintain a consistent and effective oral health regimen. These senior care providers can use reminder methods such as digital alarms, written reminders and voice assistants.
Providing Nutritional Support
Caregivers can also help seniors maintain good oral health by providing nutritional support. Proper nutrition prevents nutrition-related oral issues, ensuring seniors can continue to enjoy their food and a better overall quality of life.
Tips for Senior Dental Care
Since maintaining oral health is crucial to the overall well-being of seniors, a good senior care provider should learn a few basic dental care tips.
Daily Oral Hygiene
Daily oral hygiene is the key to exceptional dental health for seniors. An ideal oral hygiene regimen should include;
- Brushing – Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to brush teeth at least twice daily.
- Flossing – Dental flosses help remove food particles and plaque from areas a toothbrush cannot access.
- Tongue cleaning – Use the back of a toothbrush or tongue scraper to remove bacteria from the tongue and prevent bad breath.
- Rinse – Use an antimicrobial or fluoride mouthwash to strengthen the enamel, remove bacteria and remove bad breath.
Regular Dental Check-ups
In addition to a daily oral regimen, it is crucial for seniors to go for regular dental check-ups and cleaning. That helps maintain optimal oral health by enabling dentists to identify a potential issue before it occurs. Unfortunately, regular dental check-ups and dentist home visits for elderly can be costly. Luckily, seniors can make the most of over 60 benefits dental that provide free dental treatment for over 60s in the UK.
Besides regular dental check-ups, seniors should maintain a well-balanced diet to enhance their oral health. Here are good examples of senior-friendly diets that are great for oral health:
- Calcium-rich foods – Senior care providers should encourage older adults to consume calcium-rich foods like leafy greens and dairy products.
- Vegetables and fruits – Vegetables and fruits provide vitamins and minerals that promote wound healing and gum health.
- Fibre-rich foods – Fibrous foods, such as whole grain, stimulate saliva production, helping naturally clean the mouth.
- Low-sugar foods – Sugar is a major contributor to tooth decay, so it is wise to minimise sugar intake in seniors.
As seniors age, they become more susceptible to common oral challenges, including tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. For that reason, it is essential to put more effort into daily oral hygiene, providing dental-friendly foods and, most importantly, scheduling regular check-ups with dentists. These check-ups can be relatively costly; however, seniors can use the free dental treatment for over 60s provided by Over 60 Benefits Dental to offset the costs. Contact us at Veritas Care today for a complete care assessment and more information on maintaining senior’s oral health.