As individuals age, it’s common for some aspects of their daily life to become ignored. Unfortunately, proper oral care is among the biggest elements of health and personal hygiene that’s sometimes neglected or avoided by older adults.
But oral health is directly related to whole-body health and wellness. This is why it’s critical that you educate your aging parents about this problem and look for ways to help them maintain or remind them about good oral care habits.
The Importance of Proper Oral Care in Seniors
Even seemingly simple issues like bad breath and dry mouth could directly affect overall health, so these should be taken seriously. Put simply, it’s crucial for seniors to take care of their oral health as they care for their heart and digestive health.
But aging itself is not always a determining factor of oral health. Health problems such as arthritis could make practicing dental hygiene very difficult or impossible. Also, some individuals are just genetically predisposed to periodontal and dental problems.
Top Tips for Senior Oral Care
Most people know that flossing and brushing after eating or two times a day at least has a positive effect on oral health. However, there are other practices that can make oral care easier for seniors, these include:
- Brush your teeth twice daily every single day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush. You can opt for an electric toothbrush for a deeper clean. It’s also easier to use, especially for people that have trouble handing toothbrushes.
- Opt for other kinds of interdental cleaners when flossing your teeth. Floss picks and water flosser may be easier to use. Rinse with mouthwash after flossing.
- Make sure to clean your dentures daily, if you wear them. Also, check-in with your dentist for any issues with your dentures to avoid injury.
- Drink fluoridated tap water or ask your dentist for a fluoride treatment for extra protection against tooth decay.
- Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet that’s rich in fiber, lean protein, whole grains, and antioxidants.
- If you’re still smoking—stop now. Aside from raising your risk of developing lung problems and cancer, it also raises your risk of developing gum disease, tooth loss, and tooth decay.
- See your dentist at least twice yearly, or more as recommended by your dentist, for a comprehensive oral health checkup and professional cleanings.
Inspect Your Mouth Regularly
The risk of developing oral cancer increases with age, so you need to inspect your mouth frequently for any warning signs. With this in mind, if you spot changes such as the ones below in your mouth, have your dentist check it out as soon as possible:
- Red, white, and/or thickened patches inside the mouth
- A suspicious, sore, or uncomfortable lump or spot inside the mouth, throat, or lip
- Swelling in the jaw
- Numbness of the mouth or tongue
- Difficulty moving the tongue or jaw, swallowing, or chewing
- Pain in just one ear, but without loss of hearing
Keeping up with proper oral care practices, seeing your dentist as scheduled, and making simples changes to your oral care routine as you age, will help keep your oral health in check.