We all know that good oral hygiene habits are important to protect your smile and keep cavities at bay. But research shows that poor oral health is far more important than people once realized, especially for seniors in New York. Neglected elderly oral health is a common cause of geriatric illnesses. It can be challenging to help loved ones in Staten Island keep their mouths healthy as they age, but we have some tips to make it a little easier.
Elderly Oral Hygiene Impacts Their Quality of Life
Seniors and their loved ones are dealing with the significant health challenges of aging. Unfortunately, oral health can slip to the bottom of the list of concerns. But a healthy mouth is more than just a cosmetic concern. Poor oral health can seriously impact how happy people are.
According to a study published in Community Dental Health, poor oral health in the elderly is associated with a lower quality of life. In the study, people with the worst oral health experienced lowered morale, greater amounts of life stress, and decreased satisfaction with their lives.
The researchers pointed out that this is a population that struggles with high amounts of chronic physical disabilities and health problems. However, oral health still has an outsized impact on how happy they are.
Health Problems Can Follow
Poor oral health doesn’t just affect how people feel about their life. It can actually contribute to health problems that shorten their life too. Periodontitis is a chronic gum infection that can come from failing to regularly remove the bacteria that collects at the gum line. According to the International Dental Journal, this infection not only endangers the gums, teeth, and jaw bones. It also contributes to inflammation in the body. This leads to wide-ranging effects on the health of the whole body.
Periodontitis in seniors has been linked with a number of serious health problems, including endocarditis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, recurrent pneumonia, cancer, and dementia. A growing body of research shows that gum disease is a major health threat, making good oral hygiene a vital issue in seniors’ lives.
Unfortunately, the unique needs of seniors can make oral hygiene more complicated. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Tips for Caregivers
The basics of good oral hygiene are the same for seniors as for everyone. They should brush twice a day with a toothpaste that contains fluoride. In addition, they should floss daily, and avoid eating too much sugar. But when you factor in the unique needs of seniors, helping them keep their mouths healthy may require a little more planning. Here are some tips to make it easier.
1. Provide reminders and support.
If memory loss is a problem, your loved one may simply forget to brush their teeth or floss. People with arthritis or other mobility problems may not have the dexterity to effectively maneuver a toothbrush or floss. In-home care providers can help with these tasks, either by reminding your loved one or doing the brushing or flossing for them. Remember: this is health care, and it’s appropriate to have health care providers involved.
2. See a dentist who specializes in elder care.
Seniors often have health issues that are less common in the general population. A dentist who is trained in caring for seniors will be better prepared to navigate issues such as medication interactions and complications. For example, some medications can cause dry mouth, which makes gum disease worse.
3. Pay attention to nutrition.
One of the problems seniors encounter when they have issues with their teeth is that it can be painful to chew. This can lead to them avoiding eating, causing malnutrition. While gum disease can be treated, not having enough nutrition makes every physical issue more difficult to handle.
Make sure they have enough soft, palatable food available, such as soups, soft-cooked vegetables, yogurt, pudding, and meal replacement shakes.
4. Dentures need attention too.
The bacteria that causes gum infections can easily hide under dentures too. Partial dental devices and dentures need regular, careful cleaning. This is something a home care assistant can help with also.
David York Agency Home Healthcare Helps Seniors in Staten Island
At David York Agency, we understand the many challenges and risks faced by the aging and elderly and are dedicated to providing care to support them through all of those ups and downs. At David York Home Healthcare Agency, extraordinary service is what sets us apart from other companies in Staten Island that provide in-home health care services.
DYA provides direction as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one. Whatever your care needs, we are there for you, always striving to exceed your expectations. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at (718) 376-7755. A free phone consultation can help you determine what services would meet your needs. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.