As people age, they are prone to increasing oral health problems. These are in part due to the body’s changing structure and function as well as their tendency to forget to take care of their teeth and gums. A few of the most notable oral health issues include:
- Dry Mouth. This common condition is often a side-effect of medications. In fact, it is a side effect in over 500 of them. These can include medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol as well as antidepressants, to name a few. Unfortunately, besides being uncomfortable, dry mouth can increase the propensity for cavities. Bring your parent’s list of medications to their pharmacist to determine if this could be an issue. If so, they may be able to suggest alternative drugs or a different way of taking them. Chew sugar-free gum and use a humidifier to help moisturize the air.
- Gum Disease. Diabetes, a common chronic disease among the elderly, increases the possibility of developing gum disease as well as fungal infections. Poor fitting dentures and lack of nutrient-dense foods can also contribute to this condition. It’s important your parent maintain preventative care by brushing twice daily with a soft toothbrush and floss at least once daily.
- Difficulty caring for teeth due to chronic, painful condition such as arthritis. There are tools available just for this condition and include wide-handle toothbrushes and floss-holding devices. An electric toothbrush is a good idea as well.
- Cancer of the mouth. According to the American Cancer Society, there are about 35,000 mouth, throat and tongue cancer diagnosis every year. The average age of those diagnosed is 62. Open sores or patches that do not heal should be looked at by your parent’s dentist.
Tips for Oral Health
Besides regular brushing and flossing, make sure your parent sees their dentist at least once a year. If they have any potential issues, twice a year will be recommended. Be sure to talk to their dentist about any of your concerns and bring a current list of their medications as well as over-the-counter drugs and supplements they may be taking. Let them know of any changes in your parent’s health status.
Help them maintain a good diet by providing them with antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables. Limit processed and packaged foods which are often high in sugar or hydrogenated vegetable oils. Calcium is an important mineral for strong teeth and can be found in low-fat dairy products as well as leafy greens.
Home Care Provider
If your loved one needs assistance preparing and shopping for healthy, nutritious foods, consider the
services of a home care provider. They also assist with the daily activities of living, including oral hygiene, helping your parent and their teeth stay strong and healthy into their elderly years.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care in Lawrenceville, NJ, please call the caring staff at Care Street Home Care. You can reach our Mercer/Burlington Division at (609) 496-5666.
Dr. Shelly, as he is fondly known, has served as an Alzheimer’s Support Group Facilitator in Mercer County and is a Certified Dementia Instructor. Knowledgeable, compassionate, and unusually devoted, his guidance is crucial in helping families understand their options and render decisions for their loved ones’ care plan. Dr. Shelly’s extensive experience, sincere and pleasant demeanor, and professional affiliations have made him a vital asset to Care Street.