Keep Seniors Smiling with Dental Hygiene
Age itself is not necessarily a cause for declining oral health but seniors often experience problems with their dental hygiene. When caring for a senior who already has various health problems it can be easy to forget about oral health. Dental hygiene is important, however, because the bacteria in a person’s mouth can lead to additional health problems.
Caring for the oral hygiene of seniors
Older dental patients are likely on more medication that affects their oral health. Side effects such as dry mouth are common with several prescriptions. People with limited mobility may have a more difficult time maintaining their oral health. It may become difficult to brush and floss regularly with certain medical conditions. It can also be hard to remember dental appointments. Caregivers have the important role of scheduling these checkups, providing transportation and reminding seniors to clean their teeth.
Pay attention to the eating habits of the elderly people in your care. Seniors who have difficulty eating or start eating less might have problems with their teeth. Changes in eating patterns can also indicate problems with dentures or other oral health troubles.
Teeth change color
As people age, you’ll notice that their teeth change colors. Seniors often have darker teeth from a number of causes. A lifetime of consuming food and drinks that cause stains begins to have a more permanent affect on teeth over time. The outer layer of enamel gets thinner and more dentin shows through. Dentin is the yellowish, bone-like tissue underneath the tooth enamel.
Loss of taste
A person’s sense of taste naturally diminishes with age but diseases, medication, and dentures also contribute to a loss of taste. Dentures affect taste bud senses because they cover the roof of the mouth. The upper palate of your mouth has a role in how well you taste foods. If dentures are not properly cleaned, residue builds up and causes a bad taste in the mouth. Denture cream that secures the teeth in place may alter a person’s sense of taste.
Root decay and gum disease
As gum tissue recedes from a tooth, the roots are exposed. When the root of your tooth is exposed to certain acids, it can start to decay. This is common in elderly dental patients. Elderly people have a reduced amount of saliva, which leads to a dry mouth. The decrease in saliva flow can be from diseases, cancer treatments or various medications. Seniors are at a greater risk for gum disease. Gum disease is caused by plaque buildup and traces of food that get left in a person’s teeth. Poor fitting dentures can also lead to gum disease. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss.
Denture-induced stomatitis is a condition of painful, inflamed tissue cause by fungus in the area covered by a denture. This happens when the dentures do not fit properly, are not cleaned regularly or are not taken out before bed.
As people age, their oral health tends to decline. It’s important to prioritize oral hygiene as you care for your elderly loved ones. A clean mouth is one way you can keep the seniors you care for smiling day after day.