October: Dental Hygiene Month

    It is well known that oral health is closely linked to general health, especially in seniors. As we grow older, changes occur in our bodies, including our mouth. These changes provide a number of specific considerations for oral health in everyone including seniors.

    Although regular dental visits are not always on the top of the list for many older adults, regular care of teeth and gums eliminates many of the problems associated with oral care. As October is Dental Hygiene Month it is the perfect time to make an appointment for the senior in your care (and yourself too!) to make a dentist appointment for a cleaning and checkup.

    Here's what you need to know about oral health in seniors and why it is so vital to see the dentist a minimum of twice a year.

    Why Dental Care is Important for Seniors?

    Dry Mouth

    Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications, although many do not realize that it can turn into a debilitating condition.

    Lack of saliva will loosen dentures, cause tooth decay and trigger gum disease, so it is essential to pay attention. Symptoms of dry mouth include cracks and sores on the outside of the mouth, loose dentures, and difficulty eating, speaking, swallowing, and tasting.

    If your loved one reports their mouth is dry, encourage them to drink plenty of clear fluids and avoid smoking, caffeine and alcohol, which can make symptoms worse. Sugar-free gum can help, but ensure your loved one speaks to their dentist in order to discuss other options to aide in reducing dry mouth.

    Heart Disease

    An infection in the mouth can go into the inner layer of the heart. Although endocarditis is treated with antibiotics, it puts a strain on the heart. This narrows the blood flow when the arteries begin to swell in response to bacterial infections and increases the risk of a heart attack.

    Good oral hygiene will prevent the accumulation of these bacteria, reducing the risk of stroke, heart attack and other fatal complications.

    *If you notice your loved one has increased bleeding or redness around their gums, it is important to make a dental appointment as soon as possible. Severe gum disease needs to be treated by a dentist because untreated infections can affect the tissues of the mouth, gums and bones that support the teeth.*

    Regular Dentist Visits

    It is vital that your loved one has regular dental checkups at least twice a year in order to have their teeth and gums cleaned and check for any new issues.

    A family member or a caretaker (HHA, PCA etc.) can accompany them to the appointment and provide reassurance and support if needed. A dental examination will highlight any problems to ensure treatment.

    Final Thoughts

    Oral care should be a priority for everyone and especially for older adults.  It is often overlooked and, in many cases, the last doctor on the list for many seniors. 

    Good oral care is imperative for good health. 

    Take advantage of Dental Hygiene month and make an appointment today; your mouth will thank you later.

    For more information contact:

    Premier Home Health Care Services, Inc.

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