NJ Senior Care Blog

Senior Wellness: 3 Dental Health Tips for Older Adults

  

Senior Wellness: 3 Dental Health Tips for Older Adults


As we age, we face a different set of challenges and standards regarding our health--and that includes the health of our teeth. Thanks to advances in dental science and better education regarding oral hygiene, more people are retaining their teeth well into their senior years.


Unfortunately, many seniors are still faced with tooth loss due to a number of biological and environmental factors. Losing a tooth can cause muscle atrophy in the gums and jaw, affect jaw placement, and cause issues with chewing. Poor dental hygiene can lead to tooth root decay, gum disease, and even a diminished sense of taste.


So how can seniors optimally care for their teeth as they age? By following these 3 key dental health tips for aging adults.

 

  1. Address Dry Mouth Issues

Many seniors take medications that cause chronic dry mouth. Antihistamines, chemotherapy, diabetes medications, and hypertension medications can cause saliva production issues. Dry mouth is also a side effect of certain medical conditions, like Parkinson’s disease, diabetes or depression.


Dry mouth (also known as xerostomia) causes the salivary glands in the mouth to malfunction, preventing them from producing an adequate amount of saliva.


Saliva serves a vital role in preventing tooth decay and neutralizing the acids produced by bacteria. Without saliva to maintain a balanced environment in the mouth, bacteria can run rampant. This contributes to gum recession, tooth decay, bad breath, difficulty speaking and painful swallowing.


Dry mouth can also make eating uncomfortable and diminish an individual’s sense of taste. This is especially detrimental to seniors who struggle with proper nutrition and diet.


Seniors who struggle with dry mouth could be damaging their teeth. Treatments for dry mouth include prescription rinses or medications, dietary changes, increasing water intake or chewing gum.


2. Brush Thoroughly Twice Per Day


Many seniors have medical conditions like arthritis or Parkinson’s Disease that make it difficult to brush properly. The grip and coordination required to hold a toothbrush can become nearly impossible for seniors with mobility issues. As a result, oral hygiene suffers, leading to tooth decay and even tooth loss.


For seniors with dementia, forgetting to brush can also lead to compromised dental health.


If you or a senior loved one is having issues properly brushing twice per day, an in-home caregiver can help. Through daily reminders and assistance with brushing, an in-home caregiver can help with dental hygiene routines.

3. Visit the Dentist


A visit to the dentist can help seniors hone in on their oral hygiene routines and issues--and develop plans to correct any problematic issues.


Encourage your loved one to make an appointment with a dentist. The dentist will make recommendations for relieving dry mouth symptoms and can schedule corrective procedures for any dental issues.


To learn more about New Jersey home care in Mercer and Burlington Counties, contact Visiting Angels today at 609-883-8188.


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