When your elderly loved one starts to needs help with the basics of daily living, one of the more important parts of that plan is maintaining their oral hygiene. Seniors are at a higher risk of serious conditions like gum disease, tooth decay, and even bone infections. Mouth ulcers, oral cancer, and bacterial infections are also a danger to elderly loved ones. Healthy dental habits need to be maintained when you start to assist them in their overall care.
Far too many seniors suffer needlessly from poor oral health. Typical challenges include disinterest, poor lifetime habits, forgetfulness, physical discomfort when doing oral health tasks, and not enough insurance to cover checkups. Good dental health reflects how the rest of the body is doing, so if one area is lacking, it could be a catalyst for other problems to surface. Family caregivers like you want your aging loved one to stay healthy, so implement some good dental habits right away.
These are three healthy dental habits for seniors that should be continued or re-established as part of a comprehensive elderly care plan:
Regular Brushing and Flossing
When seniors need help with things like brushing and flossing, it can be all too easy for them to skip if those actions cause them pain. Sometimes, sore joints from arthritis have a hard time gripping such a small toothbrush. Brushes designed for seniors make it easier for them to hold and control, and electric toothbrushes are even more efficient. Flossing is another activity that can be hard on the hands. Seniors can benefit from a number of innovative products like floss wands and water picks to get in between the teeth.
Assistance as Needed
It’s important to set up a regular oral hygiene routine with your elderly loved one, their senior care aide and other family members. If your aging loved one is independent enough to do it themselves than perhaps a reminder or follow-up by a senior care aide or family member is sufficient. When they are in need of more assistance in this area, senior care aides can do a lot of the work themselves on behalf of your elderly loved one as part of the grooming and hygiene assistance plan.
Regular Dental Visits
Only a professional dentist will be able to assess your elderly loved one’s oral health, so you’ll need to arrange regular visits for your loved ones. The dentist will be able to look for tooth decay, gum disease and any signs of infection or mouth sores. They’ll check the fit of any bridges, dentures, and crowns, and ensure that everything is working together properly. If there are any problems with your elderly loved one’s mouth, the dentist will be able to identify it early and therefore reduce the risk of anything serious developing.
You have every reason to support your elderly loved one in developing good dental health habits because a healthy mouth is important to their overall health and self-confidence. Together, you and your aging loved one can overcome any obstacles they might face in brushing and flossing their teeth. Good dental habits are still so important even though it may have been years since they’ve had a cavity.