Dental Care For Seniors

img Adrian Martinez imgJanuary 19, 2021




Importance Of Dental Care For Seniors

Many of us put less importance on our appearance as we age—we (reluctantly) accept the graying hair and wrinkling skin as an inevitable part of our lives. But one aspect of our appearance that we shouldn’t neglect is our teeth. It is intricately tied to our health, and everyday activities like eating and smiling. Getting older isn’t easy, but with the right care routine, the process can be smoother for your aging loved ones. Dental care should be a priority for seniors, and here’s why:

Many of us put less importance on our appearance as we age—we (reluctantly) accept the graying hair and wrinkling skin as an inevitable part of our lives. But one aspect of our appearance that we shouldn’t neglect is our teeth. It is intricately tied to our health, and everyday activities like eating and smiling. Getting older isn’t easy, but with the right care routine, the process can be smoother for your aging loved ones. Dental care should be a priority for seniors, and here’s why:

It improves their quality of life.

As you age, you experience more pain—your back hurts, your muscles ache, and the last thing you want is for your teeth to cause you pain, too. If your teeth are decaying, you may be unable to eat certain foods; this can lead to the development of malnutrition. Sensitivity to hot and cold foods is another issue, as you won’t be able to enjoy a hot cup of tea or a cold potato salad.

New research is pointing to the role that oral health plays in the onset of cognitive disease. Scientists have discovered a link between gingivitis and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Research is still preliminary, but these findings should not be ignored. We need to take every step we can to prevent diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s, and daily oral care is one of these steps.

Good dental health leads to better overall health.

It seems that with each passing birthday, there are more pills we need to take daily. Many medications have one common side effect: dry mouth. When our mouths lack saliva, bacteria will multiply quickly. Medications can improve one aspect of our health, but without proper dental care, they may be harming our teeth and gums.

There are many benefits to flossing, more than just getting that one piece of food out from between your teeth. It decreases your chances of developing tooth decay, gum recession, and even heart disease. People who develop gum disease are more likely to have a stroke or heart attack. These health risks become more concerning as we age, as our chances of recovery decrease.

Seniors will feel more confident.

There isn’t much we can do to stop the aging of our faces. Over time, wrinkles deepen and skin sags; it’s part of life. But with strict oral health care, our smiles can stay strong well into our golden years. Even as our bodies change, our teeth can remain shining white pillars of youth. Losing teeth may cause the face to sag and lose shape. If a senior’s teeth start to decay, they may feel embarrassed when they smile. Two healthy rows of teeth will improve their confidence.

It helps avoid costly dental procedures.

Fixing your teeth isn’t inexpensive. Seniors may not have access to benefit plans to help them cover the costs of dental implants, dentures, or root canals. All these procedures come with a price tag but are necessary for the health of an aging adult. Taking the time to look after your teeth will save you from expensive and uncomfortable dental procedures.

Your senior family member might not remember to schedule dental appointments twice a year. Try to arrange check-ups on their behalf if you can, and drive them to and from the clinic. The dentist will be able to spot small cavities before they cause serious tooth decay, which can save a tooth that would be lost otherwise.

How do you help seniors improve their dental care?

Since the pandemic, one of your main concerns is keeping family members safe as the coronavirus spreads. It’s difficult to help your elderly loved one look after themselves when you can’t see them in-person. If they suffer from dementia or other cognitive illnesses, it’s difficult to remind them to look after their teeth. One way to help remind them is by calling them twice a day—once in the morning, and once before bed. Send them supplies in the mail to help them take care of their teeth, like a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste.

Due to mobility issues, it may be difficult for seniors to brush their teeth. Flossing, for example, requires dexterity and a stable hand. They may have an easier time with a floss pick, which has a handle that’s easy to hold. A visit with a dentist can help remedy these issues; they can instruct the senior how to take care of their teeth in a way that accommodates any mobility issues.

Finally, encourage your older family member to quit smoking. Even with the best dental care, tobacco smoke will damage your teeth and undo these efforts. Giving up cigarettes is especially important during a pandemic when a respiratory illness is circulating.

We know the importance of eating right, exercising regularly, and learning new things as we get older—but what about taking care of our teeth? Being a senior doesn’t have to be synonymous with getting dentures. Dental care is an important part of an aging adult’s self-esteem, health, and quality of life. By taking good care of our natural teeth, they’ll serve as important tools for years to come.

 

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