Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Common Dental Concerns for Seniors

October is National Dental Hygiene Month and a great time to stop and assess your senior’s oral health. Dental problems can contribute to a variety of issues such as trouble eating or swallowing, difficulties with speech, and complications with underlying health conditions. If your loved one has started losing weight, it may be because they have mouth pain or because food doesn’t taste the same as it used to. Many oral health issues are treatable and regular checkups and cleanings can help catch problems before they become more serious.

So what are some issues for seniors that you should be aware of?

Dry Mouth: This is very common in older adults, especially those who take several medications. Dry mouth can be a side effect of these drugs. In addition, as they age, their mouth may produce less saliva than before. Drinking more water, sucking on sugarless candies, using special toothpastes, and avoiding salty foods can all help.

Tooth Loss: Poor oral hygiene over many years can lead to eventual tooth loss. When gums recede and bone wears away, there is less to keep the tooth firmly in place and it can fall out. Missing teeth can make eating more difficult and leave sensitive spots in the gums. Implants, bridges, and dentures can help remedy these problems and provide more comfort and stability in the mouth.

Poorly Fitting Dentures: Dentures are not a once-and-done fix for tooth loss. While they may start out fitting snugly, over time they can become loose and move out of place. Seniors’ gums can become drier and shrink, changing how their dentures fit. Or, they may not have been adjusted properly to begin with. Dentures that shift in their mouth can not only affect eating but also speech. Have the dentist check the fit and make adjustments as necessary.

Gum Disease: Gum disease can be a problem at any age, including older adults. Forgetfulness, arthritis, and physical limitations can mean teeth are not being brushed properly. This can leave lingering plaque which can lead to tooth decay and gingivitis. Over time gum disease can cause gums to recede or become painful. It may lead to tooth loss as well.

Schedule regular dental checkups for your senior to detect problems early on. Also check in to make sure your loved one is brushing twice a day and able to properly use their toothbrush and clean/affix their dentures. A healthier mouth can improve their health and nutrition because there are fewer barriers to eating.

If your loved one needs assistance scheduling or traveling to appointments, preparing meals, or grooming, it may be time to consider in-home care from Always Best Care of Asheville-Hendersonville. Our trained and compassionate caregivers can support these activities and more, providing your senior with the help they need for a healthier, safer lifestyle. Call Always Best Care today at (828) 989-7263 to schedule a consultation, or visit us online for more information.

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