The Importance of Excellent Oral Hygiene for Seniors

June 22, 2022

Maintaining excellent oral hygiene as we age is important to stave off the need for dentures and other painful dental issues. The American Dental Association states that there are strong correlations between dental health and overall physical health. It further states that losing teeth in old age is not a given. There are ways to prevent teeth loss and decay.

Visit the Dentist Regularly

Many seniors may be anxious about visits to the dentist. There are some mobile clinics that will come to assisted living centers and private homes for biannual cleanings and routine appointments. There are also some practitioners who will administer forms of anesthesia in patients suffering from severe anxiety over the dental visit. Some dental offices specialize in geriatric care and are skilled in treating those with cognitive decline and dementia who may be resistant and even belligerent during dental visits. Regardless of the approach, make sure you see a dentist twice a year. Most dental insurance plans cover a teeth cleaning every six months.

Daily Care

For those seniors capable of daily brushing on their own, it may still be a good idea to be present during the process to ensure it is being done correctly and thoroughly. For those who cannot conduct this particular activity of daily living on their own, use gloves and inspect the mouth prior to brushing to look for any abnormalities or sores that may be present in the mouth that could cause a painful reaction.

In addition to regular brushing, it may helpful to wipe teeth with prescription-strength Peridex. Peridex is an oral antiseptic that treats gum swelling, gingivitis and other oral issues, such as periodontitis. According to the CDC, nearly two-thirds of adults over 65 have moderate or severe periodontitis. Periodontitis, also called gum disease, is a serious infection in the gums that damages the soft tissue and, without treatment, can destroy the bone that supports your teeth. If left untreated, the disease eventually ruins the bone, loosening the teeth and causing them to fall out. Periodontitis is typically caused by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow plaque—a sticky film of bacteria—to build up on the teeth and harden. Using Peridex daily in your senior loved one’s mouth can prevent this from occurring.

Finally, for daily care, using a Waterpik may be a better alternative to traditional flossing. This approach is gentler on the gums and much easier for a caregiver to manipulate. Be sure to check the water temperature and explain the process to your loved one to prevent any surprises that could result in injuries.

Nutrition

To prevent unnecessary tooth decay, limit sugar as much as possible. If a sweet treat is eaten, make sure to flush it down with lots of water. Seniors often suffer from dry mouth so staying hydrated helps to flush residual food particles and bacteria out of the mouth. This also prevents the buildup of tartar and plaque.

At Stouffer Legal we care about our seniors and know that excellent oral hygiene leads to better overall health. As a caregiver of a senior loved one, contact us for more information on elder law services such as estate planning and long-term care planning. You can schedule an appointment by calling us at (443) 470-3599 or emailing us at office@stoufferlegal.com.

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