Several oral health problems can creep up with advancing age. When these problems are left to run their course, serious consequences can follow. For good dental care, it’s always best to have regular check-ups as well as a dental check-up whenever an issue arises with the gums or the teeth.
As an elderly home care provider, you may notice your elderly loved one is having teeth or mouth problems. If so, it’s time they visited their dentist.
Some oral problems that may occur:
- Thrush – this is an overgrowth of a fungus in the mouth. It can be brought on by disease or drugs that the elderly person is taking.
- Gum disease – a common problem for older adults, which is caused and worsened by poor brushing and flossing habits, using tobacco, ill-fitting dentures or bridges, some diseases and a poor diet.
- Dry mouth results from poor saliva flow. It can be a side effect of some medication, or a result of cancer treatments or some diseases.
- Darkened teeth can result from consuming staining foods and drinks. The darkening increases with time.
- Root decay due to acids coming in contact with the tooth roots. Gum tissue begins to recede from the tooth, exposing the roots.
- Tooth loss. The leading cause of losing teeth is due to gum disease.
- Stomatitis – an inflammation of the tissues underneath a denture.
While age itself is not necessarily a cause of these oral issues, other medical conditions associated with age play a role. When the elderly experience arthritis in the hands and fingers, brushing and flossing can become difficult and even impossible to perform.
Tips for seniors to maintain oral hygiene
- Regular brushing and flossing of natural teeth is essential to keep them in a state of good oral health. Plaque builds up quickly on seniors’ teeth, and can lead to gum disease and serious decay if oral hygiene practices are neglected.
- Keep up regular habits of brushing twice daily, flossing once daily and visiting their dentist on a regular schedule for cleaning and an oral exam.
- Some sources cite that antibacterial mouth rinse helps to reduce plaque-causing bacteria and helps reduce gum disease.
The senior’s dentist may ask:
- Have you noticed any changes recently in your mouth?
- Has there been discomfort, pain, bleeding or the presence of any sores in your mouth?
- Have you experienced any difficulty with tasting? How about with chewing and swallowing?
- Have you had any loose or overly-sensitive teeth?